I have a better understanding, and much more gratitude to my parents who managed to put actual warm dinner on the table all the nights of my young life. They were hardly every overly fancy and they often involved a fish stick with a carefully drawn line of ketchup thankyouverymuch. There were some nights (and gosh this memory came at me in a flash) we’d have something called CTOT – short for (oh god) Creamed Tuna On Toast.
If you lived in the Wilson household you were welcomed to a dinner of pale skim milk gravy, oh just barely seasoned with a can of tuna stirred in. It was served over… whole grain toast- so help me god. It’s proof positive that you can make something from really very little AND you can put just about anything in a milk gravy and pour it over toast.
Also… let the record reflect that I was super stoked to eat CTOT. I don’t know. I do not know.
Why that food memory flashed through my mind I’m not sure. I was thinking about all the effort that goes into throwing dinner together. How much of a hodge-podge is often is. How we’re all doing our best on any given evening.
Today’s offering is a testament to hodge-podge dinner endeavors. This may be a bit more earnest and ambitious, but the offering is to grab an acorn squash (or really any seasonal gourds you find pleasing), stuff them with a mix of sautéed savory bits, and bake until the squash is softened and the insides and bubbling and crisp.
My ‘recipe’ in heaping handfuls is detailed below but you’re welcome to use whatever you have on hand – even if that includes a can of tuna.
I made this recipe with 4 acorn squash – you know, to feed my small army.
Here’s what else is involved:
- 2 Italian sausages, uncased and browned well
- onion and garlic
- a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms, sautéed to buttery brown
- fresh herbs, salt and pepper
- torn, stale bread
- chicken stock for moisture
- gruyere cheese because duh.
Layer everything into a big saute pan. Start by browning the sausage. Add the onions and garlic. Add the mushrooms.
We’re cooking everything down in layers, see?
Add the greens. Throw in the bread. Give it all a good toss.
Start to preheat the oven because we’re on our way.
Deglaze the mega-pan with stock or wine, working any glorious brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
The liquid will help soften the bread and moisten all of the ingredients.
Generously sprinkle cheese and herbs. Toss easy.
Pile each squash with filling. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover the entire pan with foil and bake until the squash is fork tender.
Look at these hunks! On half an acorn squash per person for the most hearty and satisfying dinner.
But these are mere suggestions – the invitation is to stuff your squash with whatever is lingering in your fridge. Grab a meat (or extra mushrooms), grab onion and garlic, add a green, add a carb, add a cheese – you’re good to go!