Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! Healthy food is my jam, some might say I’m rather fanatical about it! I wholeheartedly believe that eating whole, unprocessed, fresh food is the way to a healthy body and curing all kinds of diseases. My current diet is the Autoimmune Protocol plus a few reintroductions. With the temperatures outside falling, I’d like to share one of my favorite fall comfort foods that fits perfectly into my diet: Sweet and Savory Easy Stuffed Acorn Squash. It’s a hearty dinner, perfect for a crisp fall night!
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Right about a year ago, I was wrapping up two weeks of my first attempt at an elimination diet. The first meal I made after the two weeks was a sausage stuffed acorn squash. To call it delicious was an understatement. It nourished my soul that meal did! What shocked me the most was that I had somehow missed this tasty gourd. How had I never had acorn squash before??? And, more importantly, how did I not realize it fit into my diet??
Now with fall upon us again and acorn squash is in season, I had to tweak my recipe and share the joy of savory stuffed acorn squash with you. If you aren’t an acorn squash lover yet, you will be after you eat this! It’s so good. My 4-year-old asked for seconds of “only squash, please, no meat or onions (aka celery).” Ha! This is coming from my kid who would usually, gladly eat only protein!
A couple of notes on how to make this dish optimally before I share the recipe…
Fresh Acorn Squash
A quick note on acorn squash. Acorn squash is a winter squash that ripens in late summer and can stay on the vine until frost in September or even October. Fall time, September through December, is the best time to eat acorn squash.
Acorn squash will have the best flavor when it is fresh and when the flesh has a bright orange color. While I do make acorn squash side dishes throughout the year, the quality of the squash is noticeably diminished from January to August. For best results, make this dish from early fall to early winter!
For even better results, buy your acorn squash locally. Yes, your local supermarket will carry it all year round, but if you can find it on a roadside stand, you will notice the flavor and freshness difference. Also, it’s likely to be very cheap, possibly even $1 per squash. Support your local farmer!
For this recipe, I used my homemade breakfast sausage. If making your own sausage is not your thing, then choose a regular breakfast sausage or one labeled “sage” flavored from your local grocery store or butcher block.
Avoid the spicy sausage varieties. They are not AIP-friendly; although, the spice might blend nicely with the sweet acorn squash if nightshades fit into your diet.
Err On the Side of Over-Cooking
Acorn squash can be tricky to know when it is fully cooked, especially if your halves are not evenly sized. When in doubt, cook it longer.
Usually, I cut the acorn squash in half by setting it on its stem with the bottom of the squash up. Then using my very sharp knife, I cut it in half from the bottom to the stem. When cut in this way, two nice “bowls” are formed from each side of the squash. BUT, the stem end will be thicker than the bottom end. This is where the possible error in testing the doneness arises.
Test for softness at the stem end of the squash. Don’t worry about how soft the bottom end is getting, it will be fine! The stem end needs more time to fully cook, so always test the doneness by this end only.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this dish, served up my hubby the largest piece for him to say, “Hmm, it’s pretty good, but it’s a little crunchy.” Oops! Chef error!
The flavors of the squash will be much more rich and full when it is cooked through too. Beyond just tenderness, I also look for some nice browning on the cut side that is touching the pan and juices flowing out from under the squash.
Make sure it’s fully cooked before removing it from the oven!
Don’t overthink this dinner! If you happen to be missing some of the dried spices, just skip them. Even if you cooked this recipe with only breakfast sausage, acorn squash, oil, salt, and pepper, it would be totally delicious. Extra spices are always nice, but they aren’t necessary. Salt and pepper are truly the only spices that you need to make delicious food!
Black pepper is an AIP reintroduction. So if you are still in the elimination phase of the AIP diet, simply skip the black pepper.
If you cannot find acorn squash in your area give delicata a try. While other winter squashes don’t lend themselves to nice small bowls like the acorn squash, all of the winter gourds would taste really nicely with sausage. So if you can’t find acorn squash, grab another squash peel it, dice it, and roast it then mixed with the sausage to make more of a hash. Delicious!
Try incorporating this delightful winter squash into your fall/winter recipe cycle. I love expanding my variety of vegetable intake and introducing new flavors to my family. Although not the fastest recipe to make, it is not difficult. There is quite a bit of inactive time as the squash bakes, so don’t let the timeline of this recipe scare you! Paleo/AIP stuffed acorn squash is sure to be a go-to fall comfort food for you and your family!
Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash
This is fall/winter comfort food at it’s best! This AIP, Paleo compliant stuffed acorn squash is a hearty, savory dish that is full of delicious opposites: soft and crunchy, savory and sweet. It is sure to be a winner with your family. Try it today!
- 4 whole acorn squash
- 1-4 Tbsp. olive oil for drizzling over squash
- salt, pepper, dried sage for sprinkling over squash
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lb. breakfast sausage
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. ground sage
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
- salt & pepper to taste
- sprinkle coconut flour
Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage over cut side of acorn squash. Be generous with all. This is your only opportunity to season the squash. Rub the spices and oil around the flesh with your hand to ensure all the flesh is covered. Place squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes until very soft and browning on the edges.
Prepare vegetables. Chop onion, celery, and garlic and set aside.
In a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil and saute onions until just beginning to release liquid. Add celery and cook until celery is almost soft. Add fresh garlic and dried spices and stir to bloom (fragrant), about 30 seconds.
Add breakfast sausage to the pan and brown until cooked through.
Once acorn squash is completely cooked, carefully turn over on the pan so cut side is up. Fill each half with a heaping scoop of the sausage mixture. Sprinkle with coconut flour (if desired, this is only for browning and looking pretty!).
Turn on broiler and place baking sheet under the broiler for 2-5 minutes or until desired color appears. Enjoy!
**Each half of stuffed acorn squash has 24 net carbs.**