It’s fall and I don’t need a calendar to know it’s here. Marketers are hard at work convincing me that pumpkin beverages are the only way to quench my autumn thirst and every time I go to the grocery store, I’m tempted by a staggering amount of candy despite Halloween being over one month away. Mums have become an essential decor choice and I’m resisting the urge to buy a hay bale and surround it with pumpkins.
And if that weren’t enough, I recently purchased a ridiculous amount of winter squash. I must have blacked-out in the produce section, because I can’t remember my rational for purchasing acorn, spaghetti, delicata, and butternut squash. I do know that I got home and realized that I had enough gourds to last me through an apocalyptic event.
Thankfully the shelf life of winter gourds is long, but as anyone who has cut one up knows even the small ones pack a lot of vegetable. So what do you do when you have a cornucopia of winter squash on your table? Get cooking.
Starting small, I decided to tackle the acorn squash first. I’ve been in a rut with acorn squash. After halving them and scooping out the seeds, I simply add a pat of butter, some brown sugar or maple syrup, and a pinch of cinnamon before roasting it in the oven for an hour or so. The flesh softens, sweetened butter pools, and I’m never disappointed, if not exactly thrilled, with the end result.
A couple of years ago, I got into the habit of making a sweet potato for lunch. Hot from the oven, I’d cut open the still steaming potato and place a dollop of miso with a little butter inside. The result was a sweet and salty treat that left me satisfied and satiated. I had a hunch that a little miso might be just what acorn squash needed and this recipe is the result. The salty caramel taste of the glaze is fabulous and I don’t think I’ll ever make acorn squash again without adding in a little miso. Shoot, I might just have to go buy more acorn squash – it’s that good.
Don’t be intimidated by the use of miso in this recipe. Miso is a thick, fermented soybean paste that falls into three different categories: soybean, barley, or rice. Popular in Japanese cooking, it comes in many flavors and colors. Shiro or white miso, which I use in the recipe below, is a very mild and sweet version of miso without as much salt as other varieties. Many grocery stores now carry shiro miso (check the Asian ingredient section or the produce section by the tofu), but if your local grocery store doesn’t have it check out your local Asian market or a specialty grocer who specializes in health foods.
Baked Acorn Squash with Miso Butter Glaze and Walnuts
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Miso comes in many flavors and colors. I like shiro (also known as white) miso. It is mild and sweet and not as salty as other misos.
1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1-tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
½ tablespoon shiro miso
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the acorn squash halves, cut side up, on a small baking sheet. Melt ½ tablespoon of the butter and brush it over the yellow flesh of both halves. Bake for 45 minutes.
Melt the remaining 1½ tablespoons butter and stir in the dark brown sugar and miso until smooth. Stir in the walnut pieces.
When the squash has cooked for 45 minutes, remove the squash from the oven and drizzle the miso butter glaze over the two halves. Use a brush to cover all of the yellow flesh with the sauce and walnut mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes until fork tender, basting the squash with the glaze once during cooking. Serve hot.