Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings

Ahh fall — that magical time of year when the efforts you put into spring and summer gardening are rewarded with a bountiful harvest.

Pumpkins and squash are among the easiest vegetables to grow and maintain — provided you have the space necessary for their lengthy vines and teasing tendrils. Harvesting is a breeze, and certain types, when stored properly, have a lengthy shelf life to carry you into winter.

No garden? No worries.

Pumpkins and squash are easy to find at country stands. While you’re there, entertain the kids with a trip through the corn maze.

Win-win.


Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings

INGREDIENTS:

■ 2/3 cup uncooked wild rice

■ 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

■ 2 (2-pound) acorn squashes

■ 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

■ 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

■ 1 yellow onion, diced

■ 3 stalks celery, diced

■ 3 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped

■ 4 garlic cloves, minced

■ 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

■ 3 cups fresh baby spinach

■ 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

■ 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

■ 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook rice according to package directions. While rice cooks, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each squash into four rings; discard ends. Rub half of olive oil over cut surfaces of squash and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until almost tender. Remove from oven. Heat remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Add sausage; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add onion and celery; cook 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook 4 minutes, then add garlic and thyme and cook an additional minute. Add spinach, stirring until wilted. Stir in cooked rice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Divide mixture evenly into squash rings. Return to oven until squash halves are tender and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes, then serve.