Monday, November 14, 2011

Acorn on the Outside, Pumpkin on the Inside


So many weeks ago that I've lost track, I bought an acorn squash because I remembered my mother baking them when I was growing up and they were tasty. I've never cooked squash before, so I didn't know that this squash was horribly unripe. Thus the waiting began... Finally, I was able to cut into the darn thing and my quest for learning how to cook this thing began.

I'd been given all kinds of advice from friends, coworkers, and customers on how to do thing, which, of course, I promptly forgot when confronted with the task. I figured the best course of action was to follow the instructions that the squash had written on it. This meant preheating the oven to 350 degrees F, then pulling out the big knife to persuade the squash to freaking be cut in half already. 

Once the splitting open was accomplished (the squash, not me), I was mildly surprised to find its innards looked and smelled exactly like the pumpkins that I had carved for Halloween. I wondered briefly if I baked the acorn squash seeds and salted them would they taste as good as pumpkin seeds, but decided against that and instead scooped them into the trash. 

The sticker on the squash instructed me to assemble brown sugar, pecans, and butter (which I left out on the counter to soften while the squash baked). I didn't have pecans, but I did have slivered almonds and walnut baking pieces. I decided on the walnuts because they are closer to pecans than almonds are, and should soften up nicely in the brown sugar and butter goo. 

Placing the two squash halves into a large baking dish shell-side out, I poured in a little water and put the squash int he oven. 45 minutes later, it was finished and I flipped the squash halves over then dabbed butter, brown sugar, and a sprinkle of walnut pieces into the hollow cavities. I waited for them to cool a bit before scooping some into a bowl and mixing it all together. 

The flavor was delicious!! I totally understand why acorn squash is often used as a main dish of Thanksgiving gatherings. The squash was so naturally sweet that it probably didn't need the help of the brown sugar, but melted butter over warm squash to me is absolutely mouthwatering. The walnuts served to enhance the innate nuttiness of the squash, added some texture and protein. 

I believe squash has just made its way into my Thanksgiving feast as a staple, and I will definitely be baking squash again in the future. I am anxious to see what else I can do with it, and also to try the other varieties out there. 

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