Monday, November 10, 2014

Meatless Monday: Baked Acorn Squash, So Easy, So Versatile

Welcome to my third post with the theme of easy recipes using native ingredients. [See easy cornbread from October 20 and cranberry sauce from November 3.]

This week’s featured ingredient is the winter squash, a thick-skinned fruit in the genus Cucurbita. Familiar species include the Butternut (Cucurbita moschata) and the Acorn (Cucurbita pepo, var. turbinata); pumpkins are varieties of Cucurbita pepo as well.

Most Thanksgiving feasts feature at least one winter squash dish — mashed, roasted, baked, topped with marshmallows, or baked into a pie. For many vegetarians, a squash baked and stuffed with nuts, seeds, mushrooms, or quinoa often serves as the main course.    

The Native Americans had been growing squash in combination with beans and corn for centuries before the Europeans arrived. They called the crops “The Three Sisters” and considered them a gift from the Gods. [More on this soon.] However, the squash they grew is not the squash we know today. Check this link for descriptions of some of the heirloom varieties. 

Acorn squash is very easy to prepare. 

You will need:
  • An oven
  • An Acorn squash [Butternut works, too.]
  • A sharp knife
  • A baking pan
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar or maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper

Here is the recipe: 
  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Wash the squash well.
  • Cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Scrape out the seeds.
  • Oil the edges.
  • Place the halves upside down in the baking pan.
  • Roast for 30 minutes.
  • Turn right side up.
  • Add a pat of butter, salt and pepper, and sweetener to taste.
  • Smoosh in a bit with a fork.
  • Return to the oven (right side up) for 20 minutes.
There you have it, the perfect addition to any T-Day feast or cold-weather dinner.

For more recipes, check out Martha Stewart’s site where you will find 51 recipes and 17 videos for ways to prepare Acorn squash! 

If you are up for a challenge, you might want to check out my 2012 adventures with a Hubbard squash (Cucurbita maxima) and how I prepared it for Thanksgiving dinner.

Watch your fingers!

Happy Meatless Monday. Good health to you, and to the planet.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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