By Barbara Beltrami

The minute I see mums and pumpkins and squash piled in pyramids I start to think autumn.  The sunflowers and geraniums are still prolific, there’s a little basil and a few tomatoes left in the garden, but I’ve gone fickle, have lost interest in them and am now focused on things autumnal. In come those earthy veggies, out come the recipes. Acorn squash is my favorite because it’s delicious baked with just butter, salt and pepper or stuffed with a variety of concoctions. Preparation is simple: Wash it, halve it stem to end, and scoop out the seeds.

Sausage, Apple and Fennel- Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 acorn squash, washed, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound Italian fennel sausage

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped fennel

2 Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and diced

1 tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 large egg


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place squash halves, cut side up, in shallow baking pan, brush with butter and season with salt and pepper. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until tender but not mushy. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides; remove and set aside; place onion, fennel, apple and sage in skillet and, stirring frequently, sauté until tender. Remove sausage from casing and crumble; in medium bowl, combine with sautéed veggies; stir in bread crumbs and egg. Scoop filling into baked squash halves, return to oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and a little bit crisp on top. Serve hot with poultry or pork.

Curried Quinoa and Raisin- Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 acorn squash, washed halved, and seeded

Scant 1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Scant 1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 large shallot, chopped

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/3 cup raisins, soaked in warm water and drained

1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts

1 cup finely chopped Italian flat parsley leaves


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place squash halves, cut side up, in a shallow baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, brown sugar and two tablespoons of the oil; brush squash with mixture, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until flesh is tender, about 50 to 60 minutes.

In a medium skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat; add shallot and, stirring occasionally, cook about 5 minutes, until browned. Add quinoa, spices, and salt and stir until they are browned and release their aroma, just a minute or so. Add 2 cups hot water, bring to simmer, cover skillet and continue simmering until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, then stir in raisins, pistachios and half of parsley. Scoop into squash halves and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve hot with lamb, beef or poultry.

Wild Rice, Mushroom and Spinach- Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


2/3 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions

4 acorn squash, wash, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

One 1-pound package fresh spinach, washed and chopped

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 425 F. Brush cut sides of squash with half the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and roast 20 to 30 minutes, until tender.

In large skillet heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat, add onion and celery and sauté, stirring frequently until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté another 3 to 5 minutes; add garlic, thyme and spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, just a minute or two.

Stir in cooked rice and lemon juice, adjust seasonings and scoop mixture into squash halves. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve hot with poultry, meat or fish.