By Andy Lakanen, Dietetic Intern, University of Minnesota & The Emily Program and on rotation with Open Arms
My family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan makes this classic dish regularly throughout the fall season. I enjoyed this sweet and savory squash even as a younger “Yooper” (Upper Peninsula native). Indeed, the only thing that can make giant leaf piles, beautifully changing colors, and one last dip into Lake Superior any sweeter is baked acorn squash for dinner.
Don’t be fooled by the squash’s sweet taste; acorn squash contains more than a nut’s worth of nutritional value. It’s a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Beta carotene is made into vitamin A in the body, which has important functions, including helping maintain normal vision. You’ll need adequate night vision, especially during spooky Halloween nights! Vitamin C is important for a number of bodily functions and acts as an antioxidant. Potassium also serves many functions in the body, functioning as an electrolyte.
Classic Baked Acorn Squash
(adopted from SimplyRecipes.com)
1 Acorn squash
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of Salt
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don’t burn and the squash doesn’t get dried out.
3. Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.
4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.