Thursday, October 11, 2012

Roast Squash with Sausage, Farro & Spinach

Acorn squash is absolutely delicious when roasted and topped with a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, but when filled with a hearty stuffing of fennel sausage, baby spinach, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, nutty farro and delicate goat cheese, it’s a meal in itself. Bursting with lots of comforting fall flavours and perfumed with fresh thyme, cinnamon and cumin, this fabulous Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Farro & Spinach brings the spirit of autumn home in this hearty and nutritious one 'bowl' dish.

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Farro & Spinach
Serves 2 as a main course

photo:courtesy Matthew Mead

1 acorn squash
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup farro
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
8 oz mixed mushrooms, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped with fronds reserved
1 cup fennel sausage, casings removed
2 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and trimmed
2 oz crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in the centre. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out all of the seeds with a spoon. Rub the inside and outside with a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until fork tender. Turn off the oven and let the squash remain warm inside.

While the squash is roasting, rinse the farro in a strainer under cold running water. Have 4 cups of salted water boiling in a large pot, drop in the farro, stir and get water to a steady, lively simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook 30 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain the farro in a sieve and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the fennel sausage in a medium sauté pan until cooked through, about 10 minutes. In a large saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the garlic, shallots, fennel and spices for about 8 minutes. Add the sausage meat, dried cranberries, mushrooms and pecans and cook for a few more minutes. Mix in the farro and cook for another minute or two. Sprinkle half of the cheese into the mixture and stir until melted, then add the spinach, mixing until it becomes wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the acorn squash from the oven and the mound the farro mixture inside each of the halves. Sprinkle the remainder of the goat cheese, a few fennel fronds and serve immediately.