Five Ways To Use Acorn Squash
I am partial to Italian squashes that I grow in my garden like the ones shown here but Acorn is a favorite too and I have come to challenge myself as to how to cook it so it is not always the same ho hum dish. So here are five favorite ways to use it:
1) Make a velvety tasting soup. Cut the squash in half and bake cut side down in a covered pan. When really soft, remove the flesh and place in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a soup pot cook 2 finely minced leeks in 2 tablespoons butter until the leeks are very soft. Add the squash and mix well. Add enough low fat evaporated milk or non fat half and half to thin the soup to the consistency of un-whipped heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a grinding of fresh nutmeg. Serve hot.
2) Roast it. Cut the squash into 2 inch thick wedges. In a large bowl whisk the juice of 1 large lemon, 3 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until smooth. Brush each wedge of squash with the mixture and place on a rimmed non-stick baking pan. Roast at 350F until the squash is tender and glazed looking. Serve as a side to meats or poultry.
3) Use as a filling for pasta. Make your favorite pasta dough. Cut for ravioli then fill with cooked squash flavored with grated parmesan cheese, crushed walnuts, egg and salt and pepper. Or combine the squash with flour to make gnocchi and serve with a melted butter and sage sauce.
4) Make a salad. Peel the squash, cut into 1 inch chunks and toss the chunks in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Place the chunks on a baking sheet and roast them at 350F until fork tender but not mushy, about 25 to 30 minutes. In a large bowl, make a dressing with ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and ½ cup fresh minced mint. Transfer the chunks to the dressing and toss well. Let marinate at least a couple of hours att room temperature before serving.
5) Stuff it. Cut the squash in half and place cut side up in a baking pan. Make a stuffing with ground turkey, chicken or beef by sautéing the meat with a small diced onion and 1 clove minced garlic. When browned add your favorite spices like paprika, cumin, chili powder etc. Add cooked rice, diced apples or black beans. Stuff the cavity of the squash halves. Pour 1 cup chicken broth in the base of the pan. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes or until squash is fork tender. Uncover pan and cook 5 minutes longer.