The sausage is inspired by a pizza
I conceptualized this sausage stuffed acorn squash for weeks before trying it out. It was inspired by an amazing pizza I had, called the Amarena, located at Ammazza in Atlanta. The sweet and tart flavors married with savory cheesy goodness was like heaven in my mouth! I cannot wait to go back.
Well, my reinterpretation of that fine dish is made with a sweet and savory sausage made with lamb and turkey. It’s packed with dried cherries, Peppadew peppers (a mildly spicy but very sweet pepper), caramelized onions, orange zest, and a few other tasty ingredients. I later used the leftover sausage to create a Leftover Revival which is my Flatbread Pizza Recipe with Cherry Peppadew Sausage. You guys…this recipe is an automatic twofer!
Combine lean and fatty meats for a healthier sausage alternative
Two kinds of meat, lamb and turkey, are used together for different purposes. When making a sausage it is important to have a good balance of fat and muscle. The lamb contains an adequate amount of fat and has a flavor that is well accented with both sweet and savory notes. The turkey is a more mild meat that gives body without too much additional fat. It also allows the flavor of the lamb to be a bit more pronounced, but not too strong. My husband does not like lamb meat that is too ‘lamby’ so the turkey helps to dilute that barnyard essence. He approves.
Reconstitute your dried fruit first
If you can’t find dried cherries, you can substitute them with dried cranberries. You just want to achieve tartness and sweetness. I realized after making the sausage that the cherry flavor would have been more pronounced had I reconstituted the cherries in warm water first. Allow them to steep in the liquid for about 5 minutes so that they plump up. It also makes them much easier to chop. If you decide to use dried cherries as they are (like I did), just wet your knife before chopping to prevent them from sticking to the knife. As for the peppadew peppers, you could substitute them with a variety of options as listed here.
This recipe is a little more work, but it is one that keeps on giving. Eat up!
More on reconstituting dried fruit (click the links below)
- 2 acorn squashes
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp dried minced garlic
- 1 tsp fresh sage, minced (or 1 1/2 tsp dried sage)
- 1 TB lightly dried basil (Gourmet Garden brand was used)
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 1/4 c dried cherries, reconstituted, chopped*
- 1/4 c peppadew peppers, small dice
- Zest of 1 orange
- Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With a large and heavy knife, cut the acorn squash in half vertically, along the side of the stem. Using a metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and membrane from each acorn half. Drizzle their flesh with oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the squash to evenly distribute the oil and seasoning. Bake for about 60 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Saute the onion in 1 tsp of oil on medium heat until golden and caramelized (about 6-8 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- Make the sausage. In a large bowl, combine the meats, herbs and spices, caramelized onion, cherries, peppers, and orange zest. Mix the ingredients together by hand until well combined. Be careful not to overwork the meat to retain its juiciness.
- Cook the sausage. In a large skillet on med-hi heat, add the meat mixture and cook until no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes).
- Stuff the squash. Stuff each acorn squash with the meat and top them with the cheese. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
- Steep the dried cherries in very warm water or tea (like a black tea with complementary flavors) for about 5 minutes so that they plump and soften.
Dried Fruit Alternatives
- Golden raisins
- Sweety Drops
- Pickled cherry peppers
- Rocoto (manzano or manzana chilies) (very spicy)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 640Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 1316mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 40g
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used. I am not a doctor, nor a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Please consult your personal physician with any questions you may have regarding your own health and diet.