The combination of sausage and butternut squash is a classic autumn delicacy. There are many stuffed squash recipes available that bring these flavors together. This recipe, however, offers more savory elements than most stuffed squash recipes do. Adding in the meaty flavors of sage and portobello mushrooms with the elegantly sweet flavors of apples helps bring a subtle earthiness to an autumn classic, making this sausage and apple butternut squash recipe a satisfying main course that’s perfect for a family dinner night.
Butternut squash is one of those vegetables that seems like it always ends up in a soup or perhaps even dessert. But, it’s packed with flavor and nutrition and sometimes I think it should be the star of the show. This butternut squash recipe is just that. It puts it front and center on the plate leaving no doubt what the main dish is.
Are you worried your kids won’t enjoy it? If the idea of eating out of a butternut squash seems foreign to your kids, you can totally skip putting their portion into the shell and just serve the cooked mixture to them in a bowl. They’ll still get all of the flavors and goodness of the squash and other veggies without having to worry about them turning up their nose to the stuffed squash shell.
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Ingredients You’ll Need for this Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe
- non-stick cooking spray
- 2 butternut squash
- extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic
- sweet onion, chopped
- 2 pints baby portobello mushrooms
- 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
- fresh sage leaves
- 2 medium apples, I really like Honeycrisps but you can use whatever variety is your favorite
- fresh thyme
- maple syrup
- 1 block fresh parmesan cheese
- pink Himalayan sea salt, or your preferred salt
- black pepper
How to Roast Butternut Squash
Roasting butternut squash is a simple process. You will need a sharp knife and a good stable cutting board. Here’s the step-by-step for how to roast butternut squash.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Next, slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise. If it’s too firm, you can pop it into the microwave for 2 minutes, which will soften the flesh slightly, making it easier to slice.
- Once you have it sliced open, you’ll see the seeds in the circular part of the flesh. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds out.
- Using your sharp knife, score the flesh of the squash by slicing partway through and making diagonal lines turn the squash 45 degrees and cut the other side making a diamond or square pattern as you go. Don’t score all the way through. Doing this makes it easier to remove the squash from the shell after it has cooked.
- Brush or drizzle olive oil onto the butternut squash halves. You want a light coating of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you want to add extra flavor, sprinkle some fresh herbs on top. This recipe calls for fresh sage and thyme in the stuffing mix, so those seem like the perfect option. I sprinkled some fresh thyme. But you can use any herb you have on hand while roasting the squash. Fresh thyme, parsley, or rosemary are good savory options.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes with the squash laying cut side up on a baking sheet. I like to place a few whole garlic cloves around the pan while the squash is roasting for an even more aromatic flavor.
How to Stuff a Butternut Squash
While the butternut squash to roasting you can prep your stuffing While the butternut squash to roasting, you can prep your stuffing mix. Use a heavy wide pan. I prefer to use cast iron skillets when cooking. Drizzle a little olive oil into the pan and set the heat to med-high. Once the pan gets hot, you’ll want to reduce the heat to med-low, to prevent the onions from scorching. Remember, cast iron retains heat, so you don’t have to keep the cooking element super hot the pan does the work for you.
- Start by adding the onions to the remaining olive oil and let simmer. Add the chopped garlic while you slice the portobello mushrooms. Be careful not to overcook the onions and garlic as they will taste bitter.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and sautee until the mushrooms begin to release their water and start to soften.
- Now, add sausage to the pan and use a wooden spoon or spatula to crumble it as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
- Next, add the chopped apple, fresh sage, and thyme to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until the apple softens.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecans (if using).
- After the butternut squash is cooked, soft and tender, remove them from the oven. Scoop out the scored flesh. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.
- Drizzle the maple syrup into the mixture and blend while gently folding the cut squash into the sausage mixture.
- Now, spoon the sausage mixture into the hollowed shells of the butternut squash.
- Place the filled squash back into the oven for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle the grated cheese on top. That’s it!
Now you can enjoy a delectable autumn dinner with your family.
5 Ways to Change Up this Squash Recipe with Ease
Maybe you don’t have all the needed ingredients on hand but still want to enjoy roasted, stuffed butternut squash. You can easily change up this recipe. Here are five ways to make simple changes to the recipe.
- If you don’t have Italian sausage, you can use any bulk pork sausage you have on hand. Breakfast sausage or hot sausage will work just as well.
- Don’t have fresh herbs on hand? You can use dried herbs. For the sage use 2 T. fresh sage for 2 tsp. of rubbed or ground sage. For the fresh thyme use 3/4 tsp of dried thyme instead. You can also swap any of the herbs for fresh or dried parsley instead. And, rosemary would also pair well with this dish. For a warmer flavor profile swap the thyme for equal amounts of cinnamon or a pinch or two of nutmeg.
- Don’t love mushrooms? That’s OK, you can just leave them out or add similar amounts of eggplant or diced zucchini.
- I prefer sweet onion when I’m cooking but you can easily change the onion to a yellow or red onion.
- If you don’t have maple syrup you can use 2 T of brown sugar instead. You’ll get a similar flavor profile and that extra mild sweetness that pairs so well with butternut squash.
- non-stick cooking spray
- 2 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp removed
- 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
- ½ sweet onion, chopped
- 1½ c. baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 lb. spicy bulk Italian sausage
- 2 T. fresh sage leaves, julienned
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small chunks
- 2 t. fresh thyme
- 4 oz. pecans, chopped
- 2 T. maple syrup (optional)
- parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- pink Himalayan sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Set the top oven rack in the center position, then pre-heat oven to 375°F.
2. While oven is pre-heating, prep two 13 x 9” glass baking dishes by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place butternut squash halves in glass dishes, cut side up. You can score the flesh to make it easier to scoop after baking. Brush the top and edges lightly with olive oil. You can sprinkle fresh herbs on top and add garlic cloves to the pan for added flavor, but this step is optional.
3. Put dishes in pre-heated oven. Bake until soft enough to scoop out interior with a spoon, approximately 45-50 minutes. (Actual baking time will vary depending size of squash, and how ripe it is).
4. While the squash is baking, add remaining olive oil, garlic, and onion to a large skillet set over medium heat. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to develop some color, approximately 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the onions or garlic. I usually add water to my pan to help soften the onions without burning, then cook until the water is mostly evaporated.
5. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to release their liquid and soften, approximately 4-5 minutes.
6. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until it is brown breaking apart with a wooden spoon or spatula while it cooks. This can take approximately 6-8 minutes.
7. Add fresh sage, chopped apples, and thyme. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until apples soften, stirring occasionally.
8. Remove the mixture from heat and drain excess liquid from skillet. Stir in chopped pecans and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to combine and set aside.
9. When ready, remove squash from oven and cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
10. Transfer the squash, one at a time, to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, trace a ½” inch border around the perimeter of each squash. Scoop out all of the squash inside the border and reserve the cooked flesh in a large bowl. Be careful not to puncture the exterior of the squash skin during this process. When finished, return each empty squash shell to a baking dish.
11. Cut the cooked squash into bite-sized chunks and add maple syrup and squash to the apple-sausage mixture. Gently fold together until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
12. Spoon apple-sausage mixture into empty squash shells.
13. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is warmed through and nicely browned. Remove from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh thyme, if desired, before serving.
Total Fat 67.3g 86% Saturated Fat 16.7g 83% Cholesterol 88mg 29% Sodium 853mg37%Total Carbohydrate 44g16%Dietary Fiber 9.8g35%Total Sugars 22.9g Protein 24.1g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 845Total Fat: 67.3gSaturated Fat: 16.7gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 853mgCarbohydrates: 44gNet Carbohydrates: 34.2gFiber: 9.8gSugar: 22.9gProtein: 24.1g
Are you curious about what you can serve with this squash recipe? With all the veggies packed in it’s already a hearty, healthy dish. But, you can add a yummy spinach salad on the side. Keep it light with a few leaves, chopped cucumber, and a drizzle of a light vinaigrette.
Are you ready to dive into a savory bite of butternut squash? Give this recipe a try and come back and comment to let me know how you like it and how the kiddos enjoyed it too!