A little olive oil, a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, some alone time in the oven — this is all that's between you and a warm dish of roasted acorn squash this evening. Here is a step-by-step recipe and guide to help you cook perfect acorn squash every time.
How to Cut an Acorn Squash in Half
Acorn squashes aren't quite as tough and formidable as butternut squashes, but you need to use a chef's knife to cut this squash in half, or at least another heavy-duty knife that has some real heft to it. A paring knife is not going to do the trick.
Have your chef's knife? Okay, good — now the trick is to start on one side of the stem and cut straight through the squash (not the stem; don't even try to cut through the stem) until the knife stops meeting resistance and you've cut through to the hollow middle. Continue cutting around the side of the acorn, through the tip, then around the other side, ending up on the other side of the stem.
Then, grab the squash with your big, strong hands, and pull it apart. As you pull apart the sides, the squash will split to one side of the stem. You can trim the stem out at this point, but I usually just leave it in.
Beyond Salt and Pepper
Once you've split the squash and scooped out the seeds (which you should definitely save for roasting later), then all that's left to do is rub the squash halves with a little olive oil or butter and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
This makes a delicious meal all on its own, but you needn't stop at just the standard S&P. Try sprinkling on a few teaspoons of your favorite spice or mix of spices — garam masala is a favorite of mine. You could also add a scoop of brown sugar, or nestle a few garlic cloves into the bowl of each squash half.
Want to transform this simple side dish into a full-blown meal? Then stuff it! Leftover vegetables, shredded meat, a scoop of grains or some bread crumbs, and a little cheese — stuff all that in the bowl of the squash and roast away. Here's more info about how to get in on that squashy action:
Read more: How To Make Stuffed Roasted Squash
5 Things You Can Do with Roasted Acorn Squash
Sure, this makes a great side dish, but once you have that acorn squash roasted, there are a surprising number of ways you can use it.
- Soup: Scoop all the flesh from the squash and either chop it into large chunks for a brothy soup, or purée it for a creamy soup.
- Casseroles: Layer the scooped squash into a lasagna or toss it into your favorite casserole, along with the rest of the ingredients. Here's how to make a simple pasta bake with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
- Hearty salads: Toss big chunks of the leftover squash in with the rest of your salad fixings for lunch tomorrow.
- Pasta dinner: Squash and pasta are great together. Add some brown butter and sage, and you have the perfect mid-week comfort food.
- Put it in (or on) a crust: Squash-stuffed calzones? Squash-topped pizza? Squash-filled quesadillas? Don't knock it until you try it.
How To Roast Acorn Squash
Makes 2 servings
What You Need
1 or more acorn squash
Olive oil, or butter
Chef's knife or other hefty knife
Sturdy soup spoon
Roasting pan or baking sheet
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven.
- Cut the squash in half from stem to tip: Start on one side of the stem and cut straight through until the knife stops hitting resistance and you've cut through to the hollow middle. Continue cutting around the acorn, through the tip, ending up on the other side of the stem. Do not try to cut through the stem.
- Break the squash in half: Put down your knife and hold the squash in both hands. Pull the two halves away from each other, cracking the shell at the stem. The stem will stay with one half and leave the other half clean; you can trim away the stem if you want, but I usually leave it in.
- Scoop out the seeds: Use a sturdy soup spoon to scrape out all the seeds and stringy bits from inside both squash halves. You can save these for roasting in the oven, if you like!
- Rub the squash halves with oil: Set the acorn squash halves cut-side up, like bowls, in the roasting pan or on the baking sheet. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and use your fingertips to rub it all over the cut surface and inside of the squash.
- Sprinkle both halves generously with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes: When done, the halves will be caramelized and roasty around the edges, and you should be able to easily poke a fork or knife all the way through the flesh.
- Eat immediately, or cool and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Save your squash seeds and roast them! Here's how: How To Roast Pumpkin and Squash Seeds.