Sweet and savory roasted acorn squash wedges tossed with brown sugar, spicy paprika, black pepper, and fresh thyme. The squash is served with a dollop of crème fraîche, toasted squash seeds, and pomegranate arils.
Though winter squash (and pumpkin varieties) are often lumped together, there’s a lot of variation in their tastes and textures. Flavors range from quite sweet to savory, colors go from pale yellow to deep orange, and the texture can be dense and silky like with butternut squash, or more open and firm, like with acorn squash.
The best way to get to know the flavors (and textures!) you like is to experiment with different kinds of squash. Talk to farmers – tell them what you like and ask what varieties they like.
Cooking with Acorn Squash
Acorn squash have firm, yellow flesh and a much more savory flavor profile than butternut or orange kabocha. They’re easy to slice and seed, and cook up in about 30 minutes. Owing to the understated sweetness, acorn squash take on other flavors quite nicely, so they’re an excellent vehicle for spicy, sweet, or umami notes.
They can be sliced, or just halved, and roasted or grilled. There’s lots of room to experiment!
Acorn squash skin is quite tender and sort of melts into the rest of the squash, so there’s no need to peel or worry about the skin.
Roasted Acorn Squash: Sweet and Savory Flavors Pop
In this recipe, the acorn squash wedges are tossed with freshly ground cumin seed, black pepper, paprika, sea salt, and a touch of brown sugar. They are drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with thyme leaves, and roasted skin side down under the squash wedges are tender with golden edges.
Brown sugar brings out the flavor and lends a bit of sweetness, but mostly it’s just enough to set off the savory element like paprika and thyme.
I scooped out the seeds and roasted them alongside the squash. The seeds, tossed with olive oil, sea salt, paprika, and brown sugar, lend crunch and a salty pop.
The roasted squash wedges are served with a few dollops of crème fraîche, scattered pomegranate arils, and fresh thyme. This recipe is fancy enough for a colorful Thanksgiving or holiday side, but simple enough for a weeknight dinner.
- 2 acorn medium squash (about 1 pound), scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
- 1 teaspoon spicy paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ - 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup acorn squash seeds, stringy bits of squash removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- Sea salt
- ½ cup creme fraiche
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Line one large and one small baking sheet with parchment.
On a large cutting board, slice squash in half. Scoop out seeds and reserve. Slice into 2-inch thick wedges.
In a large mixing bowl, toss squash with olive oil, sugar, spices, and fresh thyme. Arrange on the large prepared baking sheet skin side down (so the curves of wedges face up). Sprinkle each wedge with sea salt (using ½ - 1 teaspoon).
Roast 20 - 30 minutes, or until squash are fork tender with golden edges.
Meanwhile, toss squash seeds with olive oil and sugar. Spread on the small prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with paprika and sea salt. Toast at 425 degrees, with the squash or just after it cooks, for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Set aside to cool, stirring every few minutes so the seeds don't stick together.
To serve, add crème fraîche to the serving platter, arrange the wedges, and toss with toasted seeds, pomegranate, and fresh thyme.
Though squash is at its best right out of the oven, it can be roasted a day ahead of time and reheated in the oven before serving.