Winter squash is coming in and are decorating many fall tables and yards. Don’t throw the colorful squash away after the party, however, because they can be an even bigger hit on the dining room table.
Because the winter squash have harder skins that the summer variety, they will keep much longer. The skin isn’t edible, however, like our summer varieties of yellow, crookneck or zucchini. Winter squash include butternut, acorn, carnival, spaghetti, pumpkin and the green-striped cushaw, just to name a few.
Acorn squash are a favorite in my kitchen because they are smaller than some of the winter varieties and will bake fairly quickly.
When choosing squash, make sure they are heavy for their size and firm. Avoid squash that have cuts or punctures on their skin. Squash can be baked, steamed or microwaved. The pulp or flesh can be pureed and used as a substitute for pumpkin in pumpkin pie recipes.
Squash is rather bland without some flavorings when baked. In the recipe below, you can substitute the sugar for a tablespoon maple syrup.
Baked Acorn Squash
2 to 3 acorn squash (any color from pale yellow to stripped to dark green)
Enough brown sugar or plain sugar to add 1 tablespoon to each squash cavity
1 tablespoon butter for each squash
1 or 2 drops vanilla extract for each squash cavity (optional)
To prepare squash for baking: Wash and cut each in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Add the sugar or maple syrup, butter and vanilla to each squash.
Line a cookie sheet with foil. Arrange squash halves on a cookie sheet using a little extra foil around each to help anchor them and keep them from tipping over as they bake.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Cooking time will vary some depending on the size of the squash. Cool slightly.