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.
Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings
■ 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
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.