I’ve sustained so many little knife nicks trying to split recalcitrant acorn squash in half that I now bake them whole. After baking, I halve them, scoop out the seeds, and season with butter, maple syrup, or honey and a dash of cinnamon. Although they take longer to cook this way, I no longer cut myself and, at the same time, I preserve more of their flavor.
By the way, don’t be alarmed by slight popping sounds you’ll hear from the oven. It’s simply the steam building up in the squash and then escaping. Rest assured that if you’ve pricked your squashes before baking, they won’t explode.
Yield: 4 servings
2 acorn squash, about 1 pounds each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey
Ground cinnamon, allspice, or mace
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Scrub the squash, place them on a baking sheet, and prick each one in several places with a sharp knife.
3. Bake until tender, about 1 hour.
4. Remove the squash from the oven, cut them in half (use a towel to hold them), and scoop out the seeds. Season each cavity with salt and pepper, butter if you wish, a teaspoon of the sweetener of your choice, and a sprinkling of spice.
Squash: You can cook twice as many squash and have lovely vegetable leftovers to stir into a soup or stew or to reheat in a stir-fry. You also can reheat any seeded and seasoned squarh halves, covered with foil, in a 350°F degree oven until heated through, about 20 minutes.