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How to Cook Acorn Squash

How to Cook Acorn Squash

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Learn how to cook this winter squash in a few simple steps

Winter squash is a good source of fiber and antioxidants.

Acorn squash is a common variety of winter squash that has either a dark green, bright orange, or pale yellow skin. Like other winter squash, it is an excellent source of fiber and nutrients and can easily be roasted, baked, mashed, or puréed.

To cook acorn squash, start by cutting it in half. Be sure to use a sharp knife and to stabilize the squash with a clean kitchen towel, if necessary; cutting round squash can be difficult. Once you’ve halved the acorn squash, scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard them.

In the Oven
Place the cleaned halves cut-side up on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish. Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour about ¼ of an inch of water in the bottom of the pan and roast the squash in a 350 degree oven until tender.

On the Stovetop
Acorn squash can also be cooked in a pot of boiling water. After halving the squash, flip the halves over and place them on a cutting board, cut-side down. Cut the halves in half again and then peel the quartered squash with a sharp knife or durable vegetable peeler. Then, cut the squash into 1-inch cubes and boil in a pot of water (or steam in a steamer basket) until tender.

You can then season the acorn squash and serve it whole, sliced, or mashed. You can also easily purée it as a base for soups or stews.

Click here for our best acorn squash recipes.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

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Acorn squash, also known as pepper squash, is recognizable by its prominent vertical ridges and soft yellow-orange flesh. Acorn squash has a light and buttery flavor that is well-complemented by sweet and salty seasonings. While acorn squash is most commonly baked, you can boil it as well. Boiled acorn squash adopts the taste of the seasonings throughout the flesh and remains moist.

Pour the water into the large pot and place it over high heat. Once the water has come to a boil, add the sugar, cooking wine and salt.

Stir the seasonings into the water and add the acorn squash. Cover the pot and allow the acorn squash to boil for 8 minutes.

Uncover the pot and stir the squash softly. Replace the lid and allow the squash to continue boiling for an additional 8 minutes.

Drain off the water from the acorn squash and remove it from the pot. Test the squash for doneness by inserting a fork through the skin -- the fork should penetrate the flesh easily. Allow the boiled acorn squash to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

How to Cook Acorn Squash in the Oven

Thanks to their hard exterior and irregular shape, it can be difficult to figure out how to cut an acorn squash. But with the right knife, it&aposs no problem—we recommend using the sharpest one you own. To prepare roasted acorn squash, cut off a quarter inch from the top to remove the stem and then do the same to the bottom so that you have a steady base for slicing. Next, peel the squash while the skin is totally edible, it is rather tough to chew or blend. Cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds from the core.

Preheat oven to 425ଏ. Lay both acorn squash halves down, cut side up, on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. For additional flavor and a little sweetness, you can add 2 teaspoons brown sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon over the flesh of the squash. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a fork can pierce through the tender flesh. From here, you can scoop it out and mash it, puree it, or simply serve and eat it as-is.

Two Tasty Ways to Make Acorn Squash in the Oven

Acorn squash is probably one of the most underrated squashes out there. While zucchini and butternut squash show up in recipe after recipe, far fewer dishes take advantage of this simple, sweet squash𠅊nd learning how to cook acorn squash is easy. While you can always sauté or microwave acorn squash, make acorn squash in the oven to allow the flesh to caramelize a bit (especially if you make roasted acorn squash). Baking acorn squash helps enhance the sweetness of the acorn squash and makes it the perfect fall side dish (or even the star of the meal).

The acorn squash’s round shape makes it perfect for stuffing: just slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill in the cavity with your favorite ingredients. It’s delicious with a variety of wonderful fillings, whether you’re looking for something savory (like this awesome chorizo-stuffed acorn squash recipe), or on the sweeter side (we also love stuffing acorn squash with apples, dried cranberries, and rice). If you don’t want stuffed squash, baking acorn squash in the oven helps soften it for use in creamy (but still healthy) soups or purees.

Like other squashes, acorn squash is rich in fiber and antioxidants like vitamin A, several of the B vitamins, and vitamin C𠅊nd it can be served in many of the same ways you use potatoes, whether you prepare it mashed, roasted, or baked.

How to cook acorn squash in the oven

To prep an acorn squash for baking, you can cut off about a quarter inch at each end to make it more stable and easy to handle. Peel the squash if you want—the skin is perfectly edible, but it can be a little hard to chew. (Skip peeling if you’re planning on stuffing the squash, as the skin makes it look beautiful for presentation and helps it keep its shape while it’s baking.)

The simplest way to make acorn squash in the oven is to roast it, like our fabulously easy and delicious maple squash recipe. Just quarter the squash, top it with a little maple syrup, butter, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400° F until it’s tender, about 45 minutes. If you𠆝 rather make it a little more savory (and a little faster, for those quick weeknight meals), you can slice the squash into smaller pieces, toss the pieces with olive oil, thyme, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper, and roast the acorn squash in the oven at 400° F for 25 minutes.

And if you’re really in a hurry, there’s a perfect trick for making acorn squash in the oven in less than 10 minutes𠅋roiling. For this method of cooking acorn squash in the oven, simply heat up your broiler with a rack six inches below the heating element, cut your squash how you like it, and cook for about 10 minutes. For extra flavor, try this sweet and spicy broiled acorn squash, where you slather the slices in a tasty combo of sriracha and maple syrup.

How to Cook Acorn Squash

Learn how to cook acorn squash with these two easy techniques to turn this versatile winter squash tender and delicately sweet.

What Is Acorn Squash?

Acorn squash is a small winter squash with orange flesh and a dark green, orange-spotted exterior. Acorn squash is easily recognizable by its ridges and small, round shape. When cooked, the flesh is sweet. Also, you can eat the skin–with roasted or baked acorn squash, the skin turns tender and is easily pierced just a fork.

Acorn squash, simply prepared, makes a wonderful side dish. You can also season the squash with any herbs, spices or oils you wish and serve it in salads, grain bowls and soups. Acorn squash can also be used to make vegetarian main dishes, like pasta and lasagna, more hearty.

How to Prepare Acorn Squash

If you have experience preparing butternut squash, you&aposll be able to prepare an acorn squash quite easily. Many of the steps are the same. However, with acorn squash, you can leave the skin on the flesh.

How you prepare acorn squash before you cook it depends on what you&aposd like to do with the squash once it&aposs cooked. Acorn squash can be cooked as halves, in wedges, slices or chopped into cubes. If you&aposre planning to remove the skin, it&aposs easier to do it once the squash is cut. While it&aposs whole, removing the skin is difficult because of the ridges.

1. Wash the squash. Wash the squash before you slice into it. If you don&apost wash it first, any bacteria on the skin will get transferred to the flesh once you cut the acorn squash.

2. Slice in half. Starting at the stem, pierce the squash and move the knife down toward the end of the squash. Remove the knife and repeat on the other side.

3. Split the squash. Grab each half of the squash and twist the two apart. If it doesn&apost split easily, use your knife to separate any sections that aren&apost sliced.

4. Remove the seeds. With a large spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy membranes. You can save the seeds and roast them later if you&aposd like.

5. Cut into wedges or cubes. If you&aposre planning to cube the squash or slice it into wedges, you can do that at this step. Use the squash&aposs natural ridges as a guide for the wedges. If you want to remove the peel, use a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife to slice off the skin.

Cutting an acorn squash may seem intimidating, but it can be done simply (and safe) with these tips!

  1. Horizontal or vertical: Decide if you want to cut the squash horizontally or vertically. Cutting horizontally will create a pretty flowered shape, while cutting vertically will create two even halves (shown in photos).
  2. Cut: Using a sturdy, sharp chef’s knife, cut the acorn squash in half. If you cut vertically, work the knife around but do not try to cut through the stem. Instead, cut all the way around then pull the squash apart with your hands.
  3. Scoop out the gunk: Use a spoon to scrape the seeds and stringy bits out of the inside. (You can eat the seeds, see below!)
  4. Cook: You’re now ready to cook your squash!

To peel or not to peel? The shape of the acorn squash makes it difficult to peel. Fortunately, the peel is perfectly edible when cooked! If the texture isn’t your thing, simply scrape the cooked flesh out while eating.

Storing and Preserving Acorn Squash

You should plan to use your squash within a two-week time frame from when it was purchased. It can last for up to a month if stored properly.

Before being cooked or cut, you should store the produce in a cool, dark area. Low temperatures or dry heat will cause a shorter shelf life.

Only cut or cooked acorn squash should be stored in the refrigerator.

If you find yourself with leftovers or you like to prepare ahead, you can enjoy the produce for up to 4 days.

It is best stored tightly sealed or wrapped in plastic wrap.

You can freeze the yummy produce as well. You would do so by cutting it up or mashing it once the seeds are removed and storing it in small airtight containers. This will keep for up to 10 to 12 months.

Season: Acorn squash it is a popular fall/winter variety, but is available all year long in most grocery stores. I find it a bit heavy for summer cooking, but we enjoy it year round other than in hot weather.

Color: Although heirloom acorn squash varieties are available that are more orange in color, the most common variety of acorn squash found in grocery stores is best when mostly green and dull in color. Too much orange indicates an overripe squash which will be stringy.

Sheen: A shiny squash indicates that it was harvested too early and the sweetness of the flesh was not allowed adequate time to develop.

The ribbed surface of the acorn squash makes peeling it virtually impossible no matter, though, as the edible skin turns tender when it cooks. Acorn squash is wonderful for stuffing with a wide variety of fillings and can be cooked and served right in its shell.

Most large supermarkets and chain grocery stores carry fresh acorn squash year-round. It's sold loose by the individual squash, often in large bins with other winter squash varieties. But it's best in season, from fall into early winter. Look for fresh local squash at farmers' markets and natural food stores.

Select acorn squash with dull dark green skin and some orange patches but with no soft spots. It should feel heavier than it looks. Make sure it has an intact stem, which helps retain moisture in the squash.

You can grow acorn squash in a warm climate where temperatures remain 70-90 F for the growing season. The large plants do require quite a bit of room, though.

How to Cook Acorn Squash - Recipes

Acorn Squash is a special treat that comes around in the fall. Realize that it's relatively high in natural sugars, so have this only occasionally! It is perfect for special meals.

1 acorn squash
1 Tbsp butter
dash salt
2 tsp sugar free maple syrup
2 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar

Use a heavy cook's cleaver to split the acorn squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard them. Score in the inside flesh of the squash so that it holds the liquids well.

Slightly melt the butter in the microwave and smear half of it on each half of the acorn squash's insides. Add in some salt to taste. I happen to be a low salt person so I add very little. Put half of the maple syrup and Splenda brown sugar in each one. They will tend to pool at the bottom of each "bowl" - that's fine. You'll be spreading it around once the dish is complete.

Heat an oven to 400F and put the 2 bowls onto a cookie sheet. Bake them for an hour to an hour and a quarter. You want to make sure they are thoroughly cooked. They should be brown and crispy on the top when they are done. Take them out and cool them off. When you're ready to eat them, spoon the liquids all around the flesh again. You eat the inner orange part, but not the outer green skin.

This is REALLY tasty and sweet. Again, I wouldn't recommend eating this all the time! You don't want your tongue getting used to this level of sweetness. Still, it's a great special side dish. Heck, it could very easily be a dessert.

You get probably 2/3rds a cup of acorn squash here, which is 9g of net carbs. For that, you are getting 200% of your Vitamin A and 35% of your Vitamin C. This is not junk food! It's very nutritious for you. The only other carbs you're getting is in the Splenda brown sugar, which unfortunately is 12g right there. If you think that's high, you should look at the carbs in *regular* brown sugar. If this is too much for you, just leave it out. A ton of people eat Acorn Squash with butter and no sugar / maple syrup at all, and find it sweet and delicious. We enjoy it in all the variations.

By the way, my mom says she makes this dish in the microwave - she just puts the acorn squash into the microwave on a plate, covers it with saran wrap and hits her "vegetable" button. It cooks for about 7 minutes and is perfect. We did this with our Buttercup Squash Recipe and it came out perfectly.

Then you can use the rinds (shells) in a Chicken Broth and Squash Soup Recipe

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How to Make

Wash the squash and pat it dry.

Select a large, sharp knife and slice vertically close to stem.

Pull the two halves apart.

Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon, reserving the seeds for roasting.

Turn flesh side down on board and cut into ½ inch slices. Remove any remaining strings of pulp with a paring knife.

Measure out the ingredients for the garlic herb butter.

Melt the butter, then stir in the spices and garlic.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and arrange the acorn rings in two rows facing in the same direction. Brush each acorn ring with the butter mixture.

Cook at 400 F for 20 minutes. Turn each ring over and brush with remaining butter and spices, then rotate the tray and bake for another 20 minutes. Arrange on a plate and serve warm.

If you have never tried roasted acorn squash before, I encourage you to do so. It's simple, tastes fantastic, and is very healthy. Plus, it might become your new favorite fall vegetable.

Eat more veggies with these other delicious recipes.

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