Acorn squash has such a unique shape, that is worth showing off in recipes. When I cook with them I always try keep their features intact, so I don't peel them. Stuffed with a meat filling and baked, they resemble open hearts. When they're sliced, as in this recipe, they look like scalloped crescent moons. They are a perfect vegetable to roast because they hold their shape well particularly when the skin is left on. They can be steamed or sautéed, and even mashed like potatoes, making them a very versatile vegetable. But roasting is my favorite cooking method because it concentrates their natural flavor.
Most acorn squash recipes use sweetener to bring out the flavor. The traditional route would be brown sugar, which automatically gives it Thanksgiving flair. Instead I use maple syrup for its rich sweetness. The focus of this recipe is miso paste, the Japanese ingredient made from soybeans that is used in miso soup. The miso paste adds a salty, savory flavor. The combination of sweet and savory elevates the flavor of the squash even more. This recipe makes a very simple side for the holiday that complements a multitude of other sides and the main bird. It's quick and easy enough to put together in minutes. Just sit back and roast.
Acorn and butternut squashes are designated as winter squashes, but they are directly related to summer squashes, like zucchini and the crooked necked yellow squash. They are grown and harvested just before the first frost and are stored until their skins harden. They last for many months in storage in a cool, dark place. Their interior color is not as orange as butternut squash because they contain less beta-carotene. Still they provide a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Squashes are truly an American vegetable. We've known them since the Native Americans first introduced them to Colonists. Thanksgiving just wouldn't be complete without a recipe for squash.
Miso-Glazed Acorn Squash
2 medium acorn squash (about 1-1/2 pounds each)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon miso paste
2 tablespoons canola oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Slice each half crosswise to create scalloped half moons. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the maple syrup, miso paste, and oil.
In a large bowl, combine the squash slices with the glaze mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Lay the squash slices on two rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. Roast squash for 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Also try these squash recipes:
Butternut Squash Cake with Maple Icing
Chicken Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash
Pork and Rice-Stuffed Pattypan Squash
Squash and Honey Pie with Cornmeal Crust
Lebanese Lamb and Bulgur-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Lemon-Thyme-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash