If you’re looking to add a unique flair to your cozy, winter dinners – parsnips…
This comforting squash always made an appearance in our family kitchen growing up – now it get’s a grown up spin to heat up the colder months!
Growing up I still remember swapping out our zucchini season for the hearty squash season. This meant that as the year was ending the cozier and more comforting the vegetable dishes became. Acorn squash always was on the menu!
If you’re not familiar with acorn squash, don’t panic – it’s actually super flavorful, simple to bake. I would describe it as a combo between a spaghetti squash and a butternut squash. It’s not super sweet, but definitely not bland and bitter. It’s also easier to cut vs. the dangerous challenge of slicing through a butternut squash or a spaghetti squash. That alone should encourage you to give it a shot.
Botanically, an acorn squash is considered and fruit. Yes – this goes for a lot of fruits and vegetables where we can’t completely decide as a society what they are. For this purpose and for how it tastes and bakes…we will consider it a squash. It’s more of a winter squash and similar to butternut squash or a starchy potato. And yes, the skin is edible and tastes good when it’s roasted and softened. I prefer it without the skin but either way, the who thing is delicious.
I’m also not going to sit here and say that this is the leanest or healthiest recipe I’ve made with a fruit/vegetable. The fact that it’s coated in butter and sugar should be the red flag. The truth of the matter is, that’s what I’m here to promote. Eat the sugar, indulge in the butter and know that you’re still getting a serving of vegetables in the whole mix – it’s fantastic. I think this was actually how my mom cooked it and taught us to enjoy it. I’m still a fan to this day regardless of what’s on it.
I wanted to give the traditional way of how we use to eat them a nod in this recipe. My mom always halved them and roasted them with melted butter and brown sugar in the hollowed out center (which was the best part anyway). I grew to love them so much and then got to a point where I would ask her to make extra so I could have it as a leftover for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are so good.
They soft, rich, creamy and perfect if you need a winter vegetable to pair with any cozy meal. I wanted to kick this one up a flavor notch though. If it’s spicy, it’s even more for me. I had some chipotles in sauce and some warm seasonings to spare that I felt would elevate the basic butter and sugar topping.
If you’re still debating giving this a shot, I’m telling you it’s worth it. Once you learn how to bake these and realize how easy and hearty they are in these winter months, you’ll want to try lots of ways to boost the fruit. Another option is to nix the chipotle seasoning and add pesto or a Calabrian Chili paste. Or keep them simple and top with a yogurt dressing, roasted pumpkin seeds and even pomegranate seeds.
Here are some other recipes to consider making or serving along with this one:
This vegetable (or fruit if you must) is mild in flavor and takes on whatever flavors it’s paired with. It’s great as a base for a side and provides a great source of antioxidants and super low in fat…before adding all that delicious butter! Enjoy!
Spicy Brown Sugar Acorn Squash
- 3 acorn squash
- ½ cup butter unsalted
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
- 1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce include sauce in measurement
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon black cracked pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Using a large, sharp knife, slice each squash into quarters. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat a small sauce pan to medium-low heat and add butter, brown sugar, chipotles, salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Stir and combine all ingredients until the butter is melted and the sugar and seasonings are well incorporated. Remove from heat.
- Brush all flesh sides of the squash with the melted butter mixture while reserving about half the butter mixture.
- Place the squash wedges, with one flesh side down, on the parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Flip the squash so that the other side of the flesh is touching the sheet pan and brush with the remaining butter mixture. Roast for 15-20 minutes more.
- Remove from the oven one last time and place the acorn squash facing up so the green skin is touching the baking sheet and roast for an additional 15 minutes (remove sooner if squash is soft and tender).
- Remove from oven and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.