Sara's Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls

Quick Weeknight Meals Recipe Contest 2009

Recipe: Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls
Category: Omnivore
How long does it take? 25-30 minutes
Name: Sara
Why is it a favorite meal? Sweet, savory, and delicious, these squash bowls are nutritious and flavorful. Best of all, they use pantry and refrigerator items that are convenient to have on hand. With some quick chopping and sauteéing you have an filling and balanced meal!

Italian Sweet and Savory Squash Bowls

2 small to medium acorn squash (the halves should be the size of a small bowl)

Filling:
16 ounces Italian turkey sausage (or any Italian sausage meat or meat substitute)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspon Italian herb mix (dried oregano, thyme, basil, parsley - use fresh if you have it!)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup reconstituted sundried tomatoes or roasted tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup drained canned or jarred artichoke hearts, chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
Salt and pepper as needed

Topping:
Fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (see below-trust me it's worth it!)
Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons water
4 pinches of black pepper
1/2 cup hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated

Fresh bread crumbs:
Toast 2 slices of whole wheat bread in toaster until deep brown, chop into fine bread crumbs (it should be easy if toast is very crispy) fry in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss with a big pinch of salt and set aside.

Wash, halve, and scrape the inside of the squash. Place the squash in a microwave safe shallow dish with a little water (about half an inch deep). Microwave on high for 7-10 minutes or until tender. Leave in microwave until ready to use.

In a large saute pan fry crumbled turkey sausage, olive oil, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and dry herbs on medium heat. When sausage is almost cooked through add chopped roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Cook with turkey until turkey is cooked through. Add 1/4 cup water if it seems dry. Add spinach and toss gently until spinach is wilted. Toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasoning and salt as needed. Remove from heat.

Place squash halves on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Mound the filling into squash halves and sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper. Add one tablespoon of water to each squash. Coat the filled squash with fresh breadcrumbs and sprinkle with a thick layer of grated cheese.

Broil just until cheese is lightly browned.

Serve and enjoy! Yum!

Thanks Sara, and good luck! Readers, give Sara a thumbs up if you like this recipe!

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