There are some foods that just pair up well together: peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, biscuits and gravy, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, eggs and bacon.

Add to that list the pairing of squash and apples.

Two of the most common varieties of squash are acorn and butternut, and both are readily available at area stores. Butternut is tan and smooth with a sweet, nutty flavor. It can be boiled, steamed or grilled, and it holds up especially well in baked dishes.

Baskets of two of the most common fall squash varieties, acorn squash and butternut squash. Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.
Baskets of two of the most common fall squash varieties, acorn squash and butternut squash. Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Acorn squash has a thick skin, which makes it tough to cut and peel; but that heavy-duty skin also means it will stay fresh for months. It is a sweet variety and can be steamed, grilled or baked.

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Squash can be quite simple to prepare. The easiest way to cook squash is to cut it in half, remove the seeds, add a bit of butter and bake for approximately an hour.

But that is kind of a mediocre way to go. Just a few simple touches can make a much more exciting and delectable dish.

Rustic squash side dishes go well with any meat, poultry or fish. There are a couple of things to remember when baking these dishes. It is important to use sage and no substitutions. Sage helps to bring out the earthy, sweet flavor of the squash.

Also, remember to use a baking apple - such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or Pink Lady - so the fruit does not turn to mush in the baking process.

Walking into a house and smelling squash roasting highlights the rich fall flavors of these delectable vegetables. These warm, satisfying side dishes are a great alternative to potatoes, and squash is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

So cast those potatoes aside and bake this great fall vegetable as an accompaniment for your next meal. Happy Eating!

Apples & Butternut Squash

Traditional autumn pumpkin and apple soup with seeds in a bowl. Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.
Traditional autumn pumpkin and apple soup with seeds in a bowl. Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into ¾- to 1-inch chunks
  • 2 small baking type apples, seeded (peeled if desired) and chopped into ¾-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the apples and squash into a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, olive oil and maple syrup.

Drizzle the sauce over the apples and squash and toss so all pieces are coated. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet.

Place it into the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the sage over the apples and squash. Toss lightly. Place the baking sheet back into the oven and roast for another 15 to 25 minutes, just until the squash and apples are tender. The squash should be slightly browned.

Remove, let cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Among other ingredients, combine sausage, apples and Parmesan cheese to stuff into an acorn squash as a side dish for a fall meal.
Contributed / Donna Evans
Among other ingredients, combine sausage, apples and Parmesan cheese to stuff into an acorn squash as a side dish for a fall meal. Contributed / Donna Evans


  • 2 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground sausage, mild or hot, depending on your taste
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 baking apples, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Brush olive oil on the inside of each squash half. Place 1 teaspoon of butter into each half, then sprinkle with the brown sugar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. You should be able to pierce the squash with a fork, but it should still be slightly firm and holding its shape.

While the squash is baking, place a large frying pan on the stove and cook the sausage for 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan. Drain most of the grease from the pan, leaving just a tablespoon or two in the bottom. Use a paper towel and remove as much grease as possible off the sausage.

Place the onions, celery and mushrooms into the pan. Sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, just until the mixture starts to brown. If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add the apples to the pan and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes, just until the apples are slightly softened. Remove from heat. Stir in sage and bread crumbs and add the sausage back to the pan. Add 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese to the mixture and stir.

Remove the squash from the oven and stuff with the sausage mixture. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes until the squash is fork tender. Remove from the oven and top the squash with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Donna Evans is a correspondent for the Echo Journal.