My parents have hosted Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember and every year our house was packed with a bunch of Greeks and Italians. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, first cousins and even second cousins. It was always a special time being with our extended family.
Because our Thanksgiving gatherings are always full of people, it’s become something I’m really used to. It was so normal for me that I decided to invite Brett over to my parents’ house for the first time on Thanksgiving. Yep, didn’t even think, “oh hey, he might be weirded out meeting my entire family!”. Nope. That night, Brett (bless his heart) not only met my parents, but the rest of my family as well. All in one sitting. Poor guy. I’m glad it didn’t scare him away.
Back to the food… I still remember all of the preparation my mom would do to host everyone. Every Wednesday before Thanksgiving, she had a system of organizing seating arrangements, serving ware, and of course, cooking everything she could ahead of time. Growing up, I didn’t help out a ton, but I do remember being with her in the kitchen while she prepared the stuffing because I love her recipe and was always first in line to taste test.
My mom’s recipe is also my Nonna’s and it’s definitely not your traditional stuffing. It’s sausage, mushrooms, garlic, walnuts and lot of cheese. Am I missing anything else, mom? And because I love stuffing so much, I decided to put my own spin on it – and of course share it with all of you! Mine has a few tricks up its sleeve. I included almost all of the ingredients my mom and Nonna use, but also decided to throw in some butternut squash, farro, thyme and cranberries. Again, this is not your traditional bread stuffing, but it’s so comforting and delicious. If you’re looking for a way to spice things up this Thanksgiving, this dish is for you!
If you end up making my stuffing, don’t forget to tag #marinamakeseats.
Italian Sausage, Squash & Farro Stuffing
- 2 cups of diced butternut squash
- 3/4 cup of dried farro
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 pound of ground mild or hot Italian sausage
- Olive oil
- 8 oz of white button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup of cranberries
First, make the butternut squash by either roasting at 400 degrees on a baking pan for 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender, or steam it over the stove or in a microwave. Either way, after it’s done cooking, place in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.
Next, add the chicken broth and farro to a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Once the broth is boiling, lower to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes (or according to package).
On to the sausage and mushrooms. Heat a large frying pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the sausage until browned, about seven to nine minutes. Place in a bowl when done, leaving the grease in the pan.
In the same skillet used to cook the sausage. Heat three tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan, spreading them out to make sure there’s no overlap. Sauté on one side for two to three minutes and then flip each mushroom, cooking for an additional minute. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add minced garlic and thyme, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute.
Lower the heat and add the butternut squash, sausage, farro, parmigiano reggiano, walnuts and cranberries to the pan. Stir to combine until everything is heated through. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.