Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple and Soy
Calin’s mom and stepdad came over for round two of Calin’s birthday dinners. Charlotte brought chicken and salad fixings, but I offered to try out another of my new experimental recipes to go with it, since I already had the squash on hand. The recipe was up in the air, but when I realized that the chicken was in a ginger sauce, I realized I had to go ahead with the real recipe in the cookbook – maple syrup, soy sauce, and fresh grated ginger.
The recipe says this takes 40-50 minutes in the oven, but it was already a bit late, and we were trying to time these with chicken, so we didn’t want to wait that long. Instead, we stuck them in the microwave for 9 minutes to soften them up a bit before we stuck them in the oven. We decided that should cut the baking time down to about 20 minutes, and that seemed to do it, so we stopped there.
My real burst of genius was when they came out of the oven and I had to flip them over. If you cut the bottoms off to make them stable, they leak – and if you don’t, they fall over and pour the sauce out all over the pan. What to do?? It was then that I remembered the cookie cutters… I used heart-shaped and circle-shaped cookie cutters as a base for the squash halves, which kept them perfectly stable on the tray. Of course, when I spread the sauce over the squash I got it everywhere anyway, but a least most of it ended up in or on the squash this way.
At the end of the roasting time, I didn’t think the sauce was caramelized enough, so I left them in there for a bit longer. That may have been a mistake, but in the end, the squash halves were definitely cooked all the way through, and had a nice flavor. I think next time I won’t cut corners and I’ll just plan ahead enough to stick them in the oven for the whole time, but these were quick and easy to make (unlike the butternut squash soup), and quite tasty. Calin even ate most of his – and he doesn’t like squash! (But he only ate the particularly saucy parts. I finished the squashy edges for him.)
After dinner we had a surprise dessert, since it was a birthday. Charlotte made baked bananas with almond pound cake and thick chocolate sauce, and we had limoncello shots to go with it. Mmmm…
Roasted Winter Squash Halves with Soy and Maple
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium or 2 small winter squash (about 2 pounds total), halved lengthwise and seeded
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
- salt and ground black pepper
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Brush the oil on the foil and on the cut sides of the squash.
- Place the squash cut-side down on the foil.
- Roast until a skewer inserted in the squash meets no resistance, 40-5o minutes. Do not turn off the oven.
- While squash is in the oven, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, and ginger together in a small bowl.
- Remove the squash from the oven and turn cut-side up.
- Brush the cut sides of the squash with the maple-soy mixture and return the squash to the oven.
- Roast until the cut sides of the squash begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the squash from the oven. If necessary, cut large pieces in half to yield 4 pieces.
- Season the squash with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
– When I doubled the sauce, I decided that doubling the soy sauce was overkill – soy sauce has a really strong flavor, so 4 T. of it seemed very excessive. I left it at 3 T., and it was still a little too much, so I added extra maple syrup. It ended up being perfect – but I was aiming for a sweet sauce, so if you want something a little more savory, you might want to use all of the soy sauce.
– I cheated and microwaved the squash for 8 minutes to speed up the process. It worked, and they were fine, but I think the flavor would have been better the slow way.
– I totally missed the part where you brush oil on the foil and squash. Again, it turned out fine, but it’s probably better with oil. They did try to stick to the foil.
– The squash might have trouble sitting cut-side up on its own. I would highly recommend my ingenious use of round-ish cookie cutters as squash holders. Works perfectly, doesn’t change anything about the cooking process, and they’re easy to clean afterwards. (Just don’t soak them for too long or they might rust.)
– I also missed the part where you salt and pepper the squash. This seems like a strange step to me, since this is a fairly sweet sauce, and in my view these were almost dessert squash, but I will try it next time just to see what happens.