Quite honestly, I never met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like. I roast it all: carrots (the only way to eat them besides raw), onions, okra, even broccoli. So now we’ve come to squash. I don’t know why I’m initially reluctant to prepare it, especially this time of year when it’s everywhere and the varieties are endless. Squash is like a misunderstood pitbull, tough on the outside, but sweet and tender on the inside. It can be daunting to approach at first, but really it’s no big deal. I’ve been drawn to acorn squash this season. The flesh has a pleasant vegetal quality that’s a breeze to prepare and it’s equally delicious with fish, meat, and poultry. Sliced into crescent moons, tossed with butter, olive oil and chile flakes, it gets a drizzle of maple syrup towards the end which caramelizes the squash ever so slightly. A combo of sweet and sassy. The skin is tough and inedible (remember, it’s still part pitbull), but eaten with knife and fork, it’s Autumn on a Plate.
Maple and Chile Roasted Acorn Squash
Serves 4 (side dish)
1 (1 ¾ - 2 lb) acorn squash, skin scrubbed well
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon dried chile flakes (optional if you don’t want spicy)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
a few wedges of lime
Preheat oven to 425F with rack in the middle.
For easy cleanup, line a 4 sided shallow baking pan with foil, if desired.
Halve squash lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds with a large spoon and scrape out stringy fibers. Cut each half into 4 wedges and transfer to baking pan. Combine butter and olive oil, and add to squash with chile flakes and salt. Turn and dredge squash pieces to coat. Spread out in an even layer.
Roast 15 minutes, then turn over, drizzle with syrup, then shake the pan a few times to distribute. Continue to roast until squash is tender and golden brown in spots, 5 to 10 minutes more. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime.