I mixed up a double batch yesterday, one for me and one for my friend's parents. They have some dietary/health challenges, too, and it makes me happy to cook for people. So I hope they enjoy it as much as I do!
So there are two ways to start this casserole. You can use whole butternut squash (like I did), which is going to add almost one hour to your prep time, FYI. But if cooking is your therapy (like it is mine), the chopping and peeling are therapeutic. :) If not, your other option is to buy butternut squash already peeled and cubed. Cheater. Lol!
If you are using whole squash, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put them in there whole for about 30 minutes. They should get soft. Let them cool, then peel them, cut them, scrape out the seeds, and chop them into 1-inch cubes.
Take your broth, water and sage and bring it to a simmer as you cook the pork.
For this casserole, I used a mild Italian pork sausage (sugar-free because of my allergies). I browned it over medium heat, then transferred it to another bowl while I used the fat to cook my onions, garlic and apples.
I added my rice to the onions and apples. If you are going full paleo with this, you can replace the rice with riced cauliflower.
Then I added in the meat, squash and broth, as well as the thyme, wine
Once it cooks down a bit, put into your casserole dish.
I baked it for 35 minutes at 400 degrees, and it was fabulous! If you are not allergic to dairy, you could easily add some Parmesan cheese at the end and I bet that would be delicious!
Sausage and Squash Casserole
Ingredients for 1 13x9 pan:
1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Water
1 heaping Tbsp Dried Sage
Olive Oil (or Coconut Oil)
1 lb Pork Sausage, not in casing
1 Sweet Onion, diced
1 Honey Crisp Apple (or other sweet variety), peeled and chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Rice, short grain and uncooked. *If you use brown rice, you will need to at least start the cooking process before adding it to the casserole.
1/4 Cup White Wine
1 1/2 tsp. Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
If using whole butternut squash, cook according to my suggestions above, then peel and cube and set aside.
In a saucepan, bring broth, water and sage to a simmer. Let it simmer while the pork cooks. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and pork sausage. Brown sausage and set aside. In the sausage drippings, saute the onions for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and apple. Saute another 2-3 minutes. Then add in the rice for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the broth mixture, squash and pork. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until you start to see the rice absorbing the liquid.
Transfer to a casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.