This Sausage, Squash and Rice Casserole uses one pan, requires minimal prep-time, is dairy-free and still contains enough vegetables to make your mama proud.
Casseroles. I grew up in Illinois, still firmly rooted in the land of Midwest casseroles and yet I didn’t grow up eating them. Yet when I want to make a meal for someone in need, what is the first meal that comes into my head? A casserole. Obviously. That is one powerful dish if you ask me. Despite the gaping casserole void of my childhood, that dish is still firmly rooted in my self-conscious as means to take care of someone.
Sausage and peppers are usual dynamic duo of the food world, but, personally, I’ve always loved sausage and butternut squash. It’s also quite nice to have an alternative way to prepare butternut squash other than a pureed soup. Yes, butternut squash can also be stuffed, but I’m partial to stuffing acorn squash or spaghetti squash since those varieties have a little more of a natural cavity. But I digress … on butternut squash. Did I mention I love food?
I hope you love it!
- Coconut Oil – If you are opposed to the taste of coconut oil, search out coconut oil that is refined. However, you’ll want to look for coconut oil that has been refined through a steaming process, rather than using chemicals. I like the Nutiva brand. If you’re not opposed to a slight coconut taste (I don’t mind it at all), you’ll want to search for organic raw, cold-pressed coconut oil. When the coconut oil is truly raw, it is the least processed version you can buy.
- Sausage – You will want pork italian sausage for this meal, not the pre-cooked stuff. If you can find a product made from pasture-raised pigs, all the better for you and for the pig.
- White Rice –
- As you’ve probably learned, rice contains relatively high amounts of arsenic compared to other foods we eat. Arsenic is a heavy metal naturally found in our soil and air, but it can cause harm in the body. Rice, compared to other plants, loves to absorb this stuff from the ground. Because of this, I’m mindful of how much I serve my family, which is usually about a serving once a week if that. You can reduce the amount of arsenic that actually goes into your body by giving the rice a very very good rinse before cooking it, cooking it in a lot more water than gets absorbed (similar to how you’d cook pasta), or buying a sprouted variety (would have to be a brown rice, which still has hull and bran).
- And for those of you Paleo peeps out there, though rice is not Paleo as it’s obviously a grain, because the hull and bran are removed from the original grain, so nutrient-blocking compounds like phytic acid. Some following the Paleo diet find that adding a very limited amount of white rice into their diet makes a positive difference in energy.
Special Diet Modifications:
- Grain-Free (Paleo, GAPS, SCD, AIP) – simply omit the rice and cut the chicken stock in half.
Sausage, Rice and Squash Casserole
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 cups about 1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/4" - 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon himalayan or sea salt
- 1 lb pork italian sausage casings removed, broken into bite-sized pieces
- 3/4 cup rice - long grain white
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 5 oz spinach 1 clam shell, roughly chopped, divided
Preheat the oven to 350
In a large skillet, on low/medium heat, add the coconut oil, onion, butternut squash and salt and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the sausage and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the rice, chicken stock and half of the spinach.
If the skillet is oven safe, cover and place it in the oven. If the skillet is not, transfer the ingredients to an oven-safe casserole dish, cover, and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Stir in the remaining spinach and serve warm.