In Season: Acorn Squash to the Side Dish Rescue


Acorn squash is perhaps one of the simplest vegetables to prepare.  Shaped like a giant acorn (hence, its name), these winter squash have a dark green exterior with yellow and/or orange markings, and a deep golden interior.  Newer varieties of acorn squash are now available as well, including “golden” and “white” varieties.   I personally have not detected a significant difference in flavor, and use them interchangeably. 

When selecting acorn squash at the farmers market or store, choose heavy, firm squash that are not bruised or blemished.  Winter squash, including acorn, butternut, and pumpkin, have a tough outer skin, which enables them to keep for longer periods of time (unlike summer varieties), and when uncut, do not require refrigeration.  Once home, store them in a cool, dry place (much as you would onions, garlic, or potatoes) for up to a few weeks. 

Acorn squash was something my family ate frequently while I was growing up.  Usually, we halved the squash, removed the seeds, baked it, and then added butter and seasoning.  My parents began experimenting with various cooking methods and ingredients (resulting in the recipe below), and over the years the squash became a household favorite.

When I’m preparing a simple meal, like roasted chicken, I usually bake the acorn squash in the oven alongside the main course.  However, at Thanksgiving, when the turkey occupies my entire oven and every burner of my stovetop is accounted for, I turn to my microwave for some much-needed assistance.  I mainly use my microwave for reheating and defrosting, but on this occasion, it serves a far more important purpose.  You can make a great acorn squash side-dish entirely in the microwave, with excellent results!

When baking or roasting certain whole vegetables (like potatoes, winter squash, or eggplant), it is important to pierce them so they don’t explode in your oven.  The same is true for cooking in the microwave.  The simplest way to do this is with a fork.  Once pierced, simply place the whole acorn squash in the microwave on “high” for 7-10 minutes, depending on the power of your oven.  This will soften the squash, and then you halve and seed it.  At this point I add butter and maple syrup into the hole where the seeds had been, and pop it back in the micro for another 5-7 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft and hot. 

I like to serve the halves in their skins, cut side up, one half per person.  This way everyone can have their own.  Alternatively, the flesh can be scooped out and mashed to create a healthy, high fiber, low carb alternative to mashed potatoes. 

Acorn Squash with Maple Syrup

Serves 4

2 medium acorn squash, pierced all over with a fork

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt to taste

Place the whole, pierced acorn squash in the microwave on “high” for 7-10 minutes per squash.

Once slightly softened, cut in half and remove the seeds.

Place cut side up on a microwave safe plate and add butter, maple syrup and salt.

Place back in the microwave for 5-7 minutes per squash.  When finished, the squash should be very soft and hot. 

Serve in skins or remove flesh and mash.


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One Response to “In Season: Acorn Squash to the Side Dish Rescue”

  1. Season To Taste » In Season: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Says:

    […] something….and the result was delicious!  Next I’m going to try the same thing with acorn squash and butternut squash seeds…I bet they will be just as […]

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