Kabocha Squash, Sausage, & Cornbread Gratin

I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 small to medium kabocha squash
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
  • 2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  3. Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
  4. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
  5. Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
  7. Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
  8. Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
  9. Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
  10. When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  12. Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  13. Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
  14. Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
  15. Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
  16. Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
  17. Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
  18. Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.
  19. Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.
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One-Pot Baked Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

So, this dish uses broccoli rabe instead of broccoli- but I’m still including it in my “series.” 🙂 This is a skillet version of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes. It was delightfully cheesy too.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used large garlic cloves and decreased the broiling time to 2 minutes. We ate it with a large green salad. Absolutely delicious!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • coarse salt
  • 12 ounces Fontina and/or aged cheddar cheese (about 4 1/2 cups), divided
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 2 large sprigs sage
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound ridged medium pasta shells, or large tube pasta, such as lumaconi or rigatoni
  1. Place racks in center and upper third of oven; preheat to 325, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, for the pasta. Salt generously.
  3. Grate the Fontina cheese on the large holds of a box grater (you should have about 4½ cups).
  4. Smash the garlic cloves, peel, and coarsely chop.
  5. Pick all sage leaves from stems and set aside about 10. Finely chop remaining leaves (you should have about 1 tablespoon).
  6. Trim tough dried ends from the broccoli rabe, then cut stems into 2″ pieces. Leave leafy ends long.
  7. Heat a deep, large, ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add ¼ cup oil and swirl to coat.
  8. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet. Break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir a couple of times and continue to cook, undisturbed again, until sausage is fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  9. Add garlic, chopped sage, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Gradually add about two-thirds of cheese, bit by bit, stirring constantly and letting cheese melt completely before adding more, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes; season with salt and remove from heat.
  12. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water 2 minutes shy of package instructions (8–10 minutes depending on type).
  13. During the last 2 minutes, add all of broccoli rabe to pot with pasta. Drain in a colander and shake several times to remove excess water. Return pasta and broccoli rabe to empty pasta pot.
  14. Add cheesy sausage mixture from skillet to pot with pasta. Stir until pasta and broccoli rabe are coated in sauce, then transfer everything back to skillet.
  15. Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake on center rack until pasta is tender and sauce is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let rest a few minutes while you heat broiler.
  16. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese.
  17. Toss sage leaves with remaining 1 T oil in a small bowl and arrange over pasta.
  18. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbling in spots, about 2 to 5 minutes (depending on strength of broiler).
  19. Let pasta cool a minute or two before serving.
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Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchiette

I have two versions of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes to share. This is the broccoli-loaded “healthier” version.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Adam Rapoport. I increased the amount of broccoli, modified the proportions, and used sweet Italian sausage. It was a quick and tasty weeknight meal.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of broccoli florets
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 12 to 14 ounces fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage (about 3-4 links), casings removed
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 14 to 16 ounces orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving

  1. Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a colander and let cool (save pot of water for cooking pasta).
  2. Chop broccoli into small pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic, shaking skillet occasionally, until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add sausage and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and break up meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up sausage, until it is browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  5. Bring reserved pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until barely al dente, about 9 minutes (set a timer for 3 minutes less than the package instructions; it will cook more in the skillet).
  6. Meanwhile, ladle about ½ cup pasta cooking liquid from pot into skillet with sausage and add blanched broccoli. Keep mixture at a low simmer, stirring often and mashing with spoon to break up sausage even more, until pasta is finished cooking.
  7. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, then ladle in ½ cup pasta water. Cook, stirring, until pasta absorbs most of the liquid and is just al dente, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add butter and stir until melted, then transfer pasta to a large bowl.
  9. Gradually add 1½ oz. Parmesan, tossing constantly until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce.
  10. Serve pasta topped with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of oil.

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Baked Rice with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

At the beginning of the school year it is difficult to get back into our routine- especially getting dinner ready around my kids’ after-school activities. Ugh. I was able to make this one-pot dish ahead of time and keep it warm and ready to serve when we returned from running around. Perfect.

This dish is reminiscent of one of my favorite Italian dishes of orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. It reminded my husband of dirty rice. The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used sweet Italian pork sausage, increased the amount of broccoli rabe, and used shallots instead of onions.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion or shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 to 8 ounces (about 6 cups) broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces, tossed with 1 T water and 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees on convection.
  2. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet (I used a 12″ cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Swirl in oil. Cook sausage, stirring often, until edges are browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in shallots/onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in rice to coat, then add the wine. Bring to a boil. Cook until skillet is almost dry.
  5. Add stock. Bring to a boil.
  6. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Add broccoli rabe. Bake until rice absorbs all the liquid, about 10 minutes.
  8. Stir to incorporate the greens. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.

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Pork Sausage & Broccoli in Hard-Cider Sauce

IMG_6216

The hard-cider sauce caught my eye in this dish– it was FABULOUS!! I had received broccoli in my CSA share the day I found this recipe, so I made it right away. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jack Riebel. I used a giant Honey Crisp apple, rustic bread, and fresh Italian pork sausages. Hot sausages would be great too.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 Granny Smith or Honey Crisp apples, halved and cored, plus 1/2 apple cut into matchsticks, for garnish (optional)
  • 2 ounces rye or rustic bread, crusts removed and bread torn into bite-size pieces (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup hard cider
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Four 4-ounce smoked pork sausages, sweet or hot Italian pork sausages, or cheddar wursts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound (or more) broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Bake the cored and halved apples cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes, until tender. Let cool. Scoop the apple pulp into a food processor and discard the skins. Stem, seed and chop the chipotle; add it to the food processor and puree. Add additional adobo sauce to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, spread the bread in a pie plate or baking sheet and bake the pieces for about 10 minutes, until golden.
  3. In a saucepan, boil the hard cider with the vinegar, sugar and apple puree. Simmer, stirring, until reduced to 3/4 cup, 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt.
  4. Light a grill or broiler. Cook the sausages, turning, until lightly charred on both sides and cooked through, 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
  5. In a skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and season with salt. Cover and cook until browned, 2 minutes. Stir in the mustard, caraway, cider sauce and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, season with salt. Serve the sausages with the broccoli and sauce, garnishing with the bread crumbs and apple matchsticks, if desired.

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