Pumpkins, apples and pork—what would fall be without this trifecta of autumnal seasonality?
When the temperature dips into sweater weather and the leaves begin to change their color, we crave dishes that are roasted, baked, and slow-cooked, foods that satisfy the soul and mark the change in season. Here, delicata squash, also known as peanut squash, is roasted to a golden, caramel perfection while the golden delicious apples paired with the sweet Italian sausage round out the cast of flavors that are harbingers of autumn. This side dish, with daisy-like squash rings, is sure to inspire a few smiles all around at dinnertime.
Makes 8 servings
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed 18-by-13-inch baking sheet with non-stick foil or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
Using the smaller end of a melon baller, scoop the sweet Italian sausage and roll into 1-inch meatballs. Transfer to a plate and set aside in the refrigerator.
Slice the delicata squash across into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place a cookie cutter over the center of each slice and press down to cut out the seeds (see photo above). Set aside the pumpkin seeds for future use. Transfer the seedless squash slices to a bowl and continue removing the seeds from the remaining squash.
Cut the golden delicious apples lengthwise in half and core. Cut the apple halves into 1/2-inch thick slices and transfer to the bowl with the delicata squash rings.
In a separate small bowl, combine the sugar, ground fennel and salt and set aside.
Remove the meatballs from the refrigerator and add to the squash-apple mixture. Evenly sprinkle the dry ingredients over the mixture and toss to coat. Pour the extra virgin olive oil over the ingredients and toss again to evenly coat them.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread the ingredients as evenly as possible; there will be some overlap. Transfer to the oven and roast until slightly golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the squash and apple slices over and stir the meatballs in the baking sheet before returning them to the oven to roast for another 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Let cool slightly before tasting and adjusting the seasoning. Sprinkle with the optional fennel seeds and serve immediately.
Food, travel & forks in the road: Culinary & Digital Media | Food Stylist | Recipe Tester | Former Social & Digital Media Coordinator, USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015