Baked Acorn Squash

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Sweet Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is a prize for any number of reasons. It's available year round, it's inexpensive, it's easy to prepare, and high in fiber, as well as rich in Vitamins A and C, beta carotene, magnesium and calcium. The best part though? It's delicious!

I love this little lovely, especially because it's one of those veggies that are great for working with children - especially those who tend to be skittish or look at vegetables askance. You know the look - eyebrow cocked, eyes wide, nostrils slightly flared - "you do NOT expect me to eat THAT?" Well yes, yes I do. I think of Acorn Squash as a great 'bridge' veggie - because it's easy to work with it as either a sweet or savory application, it's fabulous to begin an introduction with it. Start off making it this way - rather sweet like pumpkin or sweet potatoes, dress that up with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, and even the pickiest Little Darlings will think you've handed them desert first.

As they get used to it, you can gradually swap the brown sugar for maple sugar, or honey. Cut back the 'sweeter' spices and begin adding a touch of cumin, a little thyme, a bit of Parmesan or goat cheese....see? I've used that sneaky little method to get carrots, cauliflower, butternut, zucchini, crookneck squash, cantaloupe and pumpkin all into my children's regular diets. Start 'em off sweet until they know they like it, then they're far more willing to begin eating the food in more applications. I'm sneaky that way - and no apologies for it. I've got no problem using any method that works to make sure they end up well rounded eaters.

A couple of things to keep in mind...

Acorn squash is a tough nut to crack. Ok - it's a squash, but it's very hard. Be super careful when cutting them. They're also extremely difficult to peel - so don't try. If you roast them off (or steam, or boil, or microwave) before you try to remove the shell, it'll go far more easily. Baking them is super, super easy.

Don't skip the water in the baking dish during baking - it keeps the skins from scorching. That won't affect the inside except indirectly - if the skins scorch the smell will infuse the flesh and that's nasty. And if you like toasted pumpkin seeds - you'll love toasting the seeds of this squash as well. Treat them exactly the same for a great, healthy, crunchy little snack or an extra treat to sprinkle on a salad.

If you have a wobbly squash that won't sit straight, trim a bit off the back side so it'll sit level. If they aren't level, the filing just drains out, and you want it inside where it'll infuse the flesh with deliciousness.

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 For each two servings, you'll need:

  • 1 Acorn Squash, halved

For each half, you'll need:

  • 1 1/2 Tb of butter
  • kosher salt, a pinch
  • 1 Tbl brown sugar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place about 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of a baking dish.
  3. Scoop the seeds and gunk from the inside of each squash half. If you wish to separate the seeds to roast, simply rub the pulp under water to release as many as possible, set the seeds on paper towels to dry, and proceed.
  4. Score the inside of each squash half with a paring knife. Into each half, place the butter, brown sugar, pinch of salt and cinnamon, and a drizzle of the maple syrup or honey.
  5. Bake the squash for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours. You'll want the tip of a paring knife to pierce the flesh very easily - and undercooked acorn squash is NOT lovely, so if there's any resistance at all, put the squash back in for another quarter of an hour.
  6. That's it! remove the squash from the casserold to plate, and drizzle some of the syrupy stuff from the middle over the flesh. I serve them in their skins and diners simply scoop the goodness out right there! You're done!

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