There are lots of things in great abundance at the supermarket, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and backyard gardens this time of year. Butternut squash are one of my favorites! They couldn’t be more simple to prepare, and the results are melt in your mouth delicious.
Winter squash has a following. Either you love it, or you don’t. I haven’t met anyone in the middle when it comes to the texture and taste of these nutrient-rich gourds. Years ago while living in Rostov, Russia, I remember being publicly giddy upon discovering a couple of rare butternut squash at the local curb market one particularly cold October day. We rushed it home, safeguarding it underneath our coats, anticipating the smells of it baking later that night, and we feasted better than the Tzar, himself!
The most difficult part of preparing your winter squash (regardless of the variety) is the initial cut. You need a really sharp and heavy-duty knife to get through the tough outer skin to reveal the fleshy and bright innards. The seeds will need to be scraped away and either roasted later, or disposed of. I use my ice cream scoop to get it all out.
As delicious as acorn squash is, I believe it tastes even better knowing that it’s full of all this good stuff:
- saturated fat
- vitamin C
- vitamin B6
- vitamin A
- pantothenic acid
Ten minutes of prep + one hour of baking yields the greatest taste for your tummy! Mash them up with your fork like you would potatoes and eat while hot!
- Acorn Squash - sliced open, gutted of seeds
- Earth Balance - ~ 1 T per side
- Brown Sugar - 2-3 T per side, to taste
- Maple Syrup - 1-2 tsp per side, to taste
Place your two halves of squash - open side up - in your baking dish. Pour enough water in the dish to cover the bottom. You don't want the water to evaporate while the squash is baking. Add a generous scoop of butter substitute, a heaping spoonful of brown sugar, and a puddle of pure maple syrup into the center of each half.
I don't measure.
Place the dish in the center of the oven, and bake at 400°F for approximately an hour - maybe longer. You want to be sure you can easily pierce the flesh of the squash before removing it from the oven. Undercooking it will only disappoint you. The tops of the squash will appear browned and the sweets you added will be bubbling and soaking into the squash cavity.