Market bins are full of the beautiful colors and odd shapes and textures of winter squash. I grew up eating a lot of winter squash, usually butternut or acorn. But many of my friends didn’t grow up with it, so I’ve always considered winter squash to be a New England thing, even though it might not be.
Acorn squash is high in nutrients including vitamins A, C, B6 and K, and thiamin, potassium and folate. Like other winter squashes, it’s also high in phytochemicals (antioxidants) — beta-cryptoxanthin (pigment with protective effect on the lungs), beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein. If that’s not enough to convince you to add it to your vegetable repertoire, consider the color it adds to your plate.
Baking acorn squash doesn’t require much attention once you’ve cut them in half and prepped them for baking. They cook away while you deal with the rest of your meal. This recipe is a classic way to prepare any winter squash. You could also add hot spices like cayenne or smoked paprika, warm spices like cinnamon or ginger, or dried herbs like thyme or sage.
Baked Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half, stem to end — watch your fingers. If your knife gets stuck while cutting, lift the squash up with the knife inside and bang the squash against the counter at different angles to help push the knife through. You could also rock the squash and knife to help it get through. Be careful the knife doesn’t pull out quickly and cut you.
Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Discard or bake the seeds with salt, pepper and spices later as a snack. Score the insides of each half with your knife.
Coat each half with 1/2 Tbsp butter. Add 1 Tbsp brown sugar to the cavity. Drizzle 1 tsp of maple syrup over the cavity. Season with salt, pepper and your choice of spices.
Place the squash in a baking dish or rimmed sheet pan. Pour 1/4″ of water in the bottom of the pan. Bake about 60-75 minutes or until squash is soft and the tops are browned a bit.
If you want to be really decadent, add a little browned bacon to the cavity of the cooked squash.