I started this blog to add some variety to my diet and try new things. One of the first things I decided I wanted to like was winter squash. In the past, when I’ve seen winter squash on the menu, I immediately decided that I didn’t like. I would say to myself, “It tastes like pumpkin. Who wants a sweet pasta?” One day a friend was talking about how much she loves to eat it in the fall and I realized: I hate it and I’ve never even tried it.
That’s hardly fair to the poor winter squash. I should at least give them a chance.
Acorn squash is very nutritious (butternut squash is better for you, but not by much). When not filled with brown sugar, it’s low calorie and low carb. A whole acorn squash only has 172 calories and 39 grams of effective carbs. It has 6.5 grams of fiber. Winter squashes are great sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, thiamin, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and manganese, and a good source of iron (reference). A lot of these nutrients are missing from the standard American diet (SAD) and missing from the junk food vegetarian diet I have.
Luckily for me, the acorn squash you find in the US are pretty consistent. You just have to look for one without external blemishes and signs of rot. The ones with less yellow/orange on the outside are best. The bigger ones have a stringy texture, so the small ones are the ones that find their way to most carts.
Once you get it home, you have to conquer the hardest part of the acorn squash: cutting it. I literally broke a knife cutting the first one. After that, I used a serrated knife to cut it. It’s similar to carving a pumpkin. I’ve also heard you can microwave them for a few minutes to soften them before cutting.
The first recipe I tried was the simple one my friend gave me. It was pretty easy: cut the thing in half, remove the seeds, fill the middle with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake it on a baking sheet for an hour at 350-400 degrees and then serve.
I wasn’t a fan. It tasted ok. It was pretty sweet, but not too sweet. It’s supposed to taste nutty, but I think the brown sugar toned that down. I didn’t taste the nutty flavor much. The texture was weird. It was almost like eating pulpy jello.
I made a note that it would be better in soup or pasta. Everything tastes better in pasta. Now, to find the perfect soup or pasta recipe. I haven’t given up on you, winter squash. [Here’s my update with a pasta recipe.]