Baked Acorn Squash: Short and Sweet

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Squash is one of those vegetables people either love or you hate. Cooked correctly and with a touch of sweetness, however, it may be tolerable to even the most adamant squash-haters. Think of it as pumpkin pie’s healthy cousin; after all, pumpkin is a squash too.

After baking, a good acorn squash should have a slightly sweet flavour, with no bitterness, and should be dark green on the outside, sometimes with a touch of orange. Winter squash, including acorn, butternut, and spaghetti keep in the fridge or a cool spot (like the garage) for weeks.

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Acorn squash looks (surprisingly!) like like a giant acorn – heart-shaped, almost. Other winter squash will also work, provided they are similarly sweet. Butternut squash is probably the sweetest of them all, but can also be the most difficult to cut or peel.

Sweet Acorn Squash

Serves 4.

This recipe can be doubled as needed. You will need a large baking pan (9×13-ish) and an oven.

Ingredients:

  • One acorn squash, halved*
  • ¼ – ½ cup water
  • 1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • Pecan halves, optional.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a spoon, scoop the seeds out of each squash half, removing any stringy bits.
  3. Place squash halves cut-side down in the pan and add the water; there should be about 1cm (½ inch) of water in the bottom of the pan. This will keep the squash from sticking, burning, or drying out.
  4. Cook the squash in the oven for about 45 minutes; it may take longer for a larger squash.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Squash will be hot!
  6. With a spoon, scrape the flesh from the inside of the squash into a large bowl (this may be your serving bowl or dish). It should be mushy. If it doesn’t scrape out easily or isn’t the texture of mashed potatoes, it may need to cook a little longer.
  7. Mash with a fork or a potato masher. While it’s still warm, add the butter and brown sugar and mash/mix well.
  8. Top with pecan halves if desired.

*If you have trouble cutting the acorn squash in half, poke a few holes in it with a fork, then microwave it for a minute or so. Let it cool, then try slicing again with a sharp Japanese knife.

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