Ever have that dinner dilemma where you want to cook something healthy for the family that’s a little different, but you don’t know what to try? Tired of the same old potatoes, peas and corn? Looking for a vegetable that’s tasty, as well as rich in vitamins C and B6, dietary fiber and thiamin? Say hello to acorn squash!

Finishes stuffed acorn squash

Warm and good for you, baked acorn squash is a perfect meal for a cold day.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

acorn squash

Acorn squash matures in fall, has a mellow orange-colored inside and is great for baking.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Ends sliced off of acorn squash

Slice the top ¼ inch or so off the top of the squash to remove the stem and create a flat surface that will become the bottom of your baked squash.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Ready to bake acorn squash

After the stuffing is prepared, firmly place the mix in the squash cavity, place in a baking dish with a little water and bake.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

This buttery vegetable can either be served as a side or as the main course. Even better: You can make it strictly savory or sweeten it up for the kids. Try these recipes and discover just how wonderful this healthy autumn comfort food can be!

Baked Acorn Squash

(I’ve used this recipe for years, and it’s really simple and yummy.)

Ingredients

  • 1 large acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • About ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the squash in half from bottom to top and scoop out the seeds and fiber parts. (Save the seeds for recipe to follow.) Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half to give the squash a flat spot to rest. Place both pieces in a baking dish.

Dress each half generously with 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, add ½ tablespoon of butter, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Add a little water in the baking dish to keep the bottom from burning, then bake the squash uncovered for about 90 minutes, or until tender. Serve and enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash With Apples and Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 4 whole acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 green apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs or stuffing mix
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional)

Directions

Cut off the stem and top ¼ inch or so of each acorn squash. (Cut the top level because it will become the bottom of your stuffed squash.) Slice off the pointed end of each squash until the cavity is exposed. Remove the seeds and fibers from the inside. (Save the seeds for the recipe that follows.) Rinse out the squash and drain.

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan or frying pan. Add the chopped onions, apples, chicken broth and stuffing mix, then sauté until onions are tender and stuffing is moist. (The apples will still be firm.) Add the cinnamon and dried cranberries to the sautéed onion/stuffing/apple mix. Pour 1 heaping tablespoon of honey inside each squash, then roll the squash around in your hands to coat the inside with the honey. Divide the mix into four equal parts, and use the bread mixture to stuff each squash.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the squash in a baking dish with the stuffing side up. Pour about ¼ inch of water into the dish to keep the squash from drying out in the oven. Bake uncovered for 1½-2 hours, or until tender. If the stuffing starts to brown too soon, cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil.

When done, remove squash and serve. This is a very pretty dish for your table. If the squash is served as your main dish, serve each person a whole stuffed squash. If it’s a side dish, carefully cut each squash in half from top to bottom and serve each half on a dish for a lovely presentation.

Toasted Brined Acorn Squash Seeds

Ingredients

  • Squash seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ cup water

Directions

Rinse all of the fibers from your acorn squash seeds, then soak seeds overnight in a brine of ½ cup water and 1 tablespoon salt. Afterward, drain seeds and spread them on a greased baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toast seeds on one side for 5 minutes (or 3 minutes if your oven tends to cook things quickly), then flip them and cook until lightly golden brown, about 3 more minutes. (Don’t toast the seeds too much, or they’ll taste burnt.) Seeds should be crisp on the outside, but tender on the inside. Serve warm or cool.

Give any of these great recipes a try. Who knows – acorn squash may just become one of your family’s new favorite winter foods!