- 2 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp removed
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 lb. spicy Italian pork sausage
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 1 ½ cup baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 T. fresh sage leaves, julienned
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small chunks
- 2 t. ground cinnamon
- 4 oz. chopped walnuts
- 3 T. cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 2 T. brown sugar (optional)
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray two 13 x 9” glass baking dishes with non-stick cooking spray. Place butternut squash halves in glass dishes, cut side up. Brush exposed edges lightly with olive oil.
- Place both dishes in oven on middle rack at 375 degrees. Bake until soft enough to scoop out interior with a spoon, approximately 45 – 50 minutes. (Actual baking time will vary depending on individual oven temperature, size of squash and how ripe it is).
- While the squash are baking, add sausage to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. While the sausage is cooking, break it into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- After sausage is mostly browned, add garlic, red onion and chopped mushrooms to the skillet and cook over medium heat for several minutes until the mushrooms are soft, stirring occasionally.
- Add fresh sage, chopped apples, and cinnamon to pan. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until apples become soft, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and if necessary, drain excess liquid from skillet. Stir in chopped walnuts and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- When ready, remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Remove squash one at a time from hot glass baking dish and place on 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 the baking dish.
- Cut the cooked squash into bite-sized chunks and add to sausage mixture. Gently fold mixture together until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Spoon sausage mixture into empty squash cavities and top each with chunks of butter, brown sugar (if desired) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Place in 350-degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is nicely browned. Remove from oven and top with additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immediately while hot.
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