This recipe is one of those you will feel good about eating, and in times like these where getting outside and staying active can be hard, we need to prioritize our own health and feeding our body the nutrients it needs.
Some of these ingredients may be new to you, which is what makes this recipe fun!
Trying new things is a way to keep cooking exciting, which is especially important when we all seem to be cooking at home A LOT these days.
This recipe has something for everyone. Chicken sausage is such a fun protein that I don't use often but I never regret it when I do. It's ready in minutes and can incorporate great flavor into a dish while limiting the fats. Any protein would work here but I used my favorite #organics balsamic kale chicken sausages because the flavors fit in perfectly. I've made these balsamic caramelized onions before- like on this burger or this drool worthy grilled cheese- but I think I need to start making bigger batches so I can keep them on hand for when the craving hits.
The subtle sweet onions just melt into the crispy kale and roasted butternut squash.
This recipe takes a little over an hour in total but the majority of that time is just roasting the squash. This can be done up to a day advance or- since most of us are working from home- whenever you can pull yourself away to turn the oven on.
The rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly.
I like to let the onions cook on low for however long I can- until everything else is ready- because in my opinion the longer, softer and sweeter the onions get, the better.
I portioned this recipe out by slicing the squash after it was roasted into 1 inch thick wedges and then adding all of the toppings.
This way every wedge has its serving of toppings and people can easily take a piece.
A variation of this is to leave the squashes in large halves and scoop the butternut squash out of it's shell, mash it and then divide the mashed squash between the shells. This twice baked variation is great for those who prefer a softer base- almost mashed potato like- but can be harder for serving.
Chicken Sausage, Caramelized Onion and Kale Butternut Squash Boats
4-6 servings | 70 minutes
1 butternut squash
1 cup chopped kale
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 package balsamic kale chicken sausage or other chicken sausage
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp butter
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2-4 oz shredded gruyere cheese
Butternut Squash Boats
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the butternut squash in half, carefully, using a sharp knife.
Scoop the seeds out of the bulb of the squash and throw away.
Place squash halves face up on a baking sheet and rub both halves with 1 tsp of olive oil. Season the halves with salt and pepper, pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 tbsp rosemary.
Bake butternut squash for 60 minutes or until the flesh is fork tender.
While the squash is cooking, make the caramelized onions.
Balsamic Caramelized Onions
Slice the onion into thin strips. Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the onions an turn the heat down to very low. Toss the onions in the oil and cook for 3 minutes.
Remove cover, salt and toss the onions. Return the lid and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Stir in balsamic vinegar and cover again and cook until onions are completely broken down and caramelized, about another 10 minutes or so.
I used the Organics brand balsamic kale chicken sausage which comes in a pack of 5 links and is not in a casing.
If chicken sausage is in a casing, use a knife to slice open the casing and remove the ground sausage. Using your hands or a spoon, break up the meat.
If chicken sausage is not in a casing, use a food processor to pulse the sausage until it's broken up into small pieces.
Garlic Roasted Kale
Roughly chop the kale and place in a large bowl.
Drizzle the kale with remaining teaspoon of olive oil and use your hands to massage the oil into the kale. Mix the salt, pepper, remaining rosemary, garlic and shallots into the kale. Set aside.
Assemble the Boats
Once the squash is fork tender remove it from the oven.
There's two ways to serve this dish. The first method is to slice the squash into thick 2" wedges and return it to the baking sheet. The second option is to use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the squash from it's skin and place in a separate bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the squash. Return the flesh to the butternut squash boats.
For either method, top the squash with massaged kale, chicken sausage and balsamic caramelized onions. Return the squash to the oven to baking for 10 minutes or until the kale starts to roast and the chicken sausage is heated through.
Remove the boats from the oven and top with shredded cheese. Return it to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Sprinkle with a little rosemary and serve warm with fresh bread or a nice salad.
Nutrition facts are based on using a 2lb (after seeds removed) butternut squash and breaking it into 4 servings. An estimate of 3 oz of cheese topping was also used to calculate these numbers.