Side dishes are something that I always struggle with. I tend to focus so much on making a great entree that the side dish falls to… well, the side. That’s why it’s always great when I can find easy ways to make a tasty side that has the bonus of being healthy, depending on how much butter you add into it. This recipe does work with other types of small squashes, but my personal favorite is acorn squash. To me, the best part of this recipe is that you do not need to worry about cutting the skin off the squash. It saves time and the insides still get perfectly done
Before you start working with your squash you need to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once the oven is preheating you will need to find a large chef’s knife. I prefer the 8 inch knife when working with squash because it is very difficult to cut through before it is cooked. You will want to try and cut your squash perfectly in half, working from the stem downward. The stem is usually impossible to cut through, so you will need to start just to the side of it.. Sometimes it works best to start from the top then flip it over and meet the cut from the bottom.
After your squash is cut in half it is time to take care of the innards. You can do this task with a regular spoon; however, I’ve found that it works best if you can pull out your Halloween pumpkin carving kit and take the scooper from there. Since the pumpkin carving kit is designed purely for the purpose of carving and cleaning out innards, this scooper is ideal to take care of this messy job. Using the scooper or a spoon you will want to scrape out all of the gooey innards and seeds and dispose of them.
When the squash is cleaned you will take both halves and put them in a large 13 x 9 pan. It is important to put ¾ of an inch to 1 inch of water in the bottom of the pan. This moisture will help the squash cook, but you do not want to put the water inside the actual squash bowl. Cover the pan with tin foil and cook the dish for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The goal is to get the squash insides very tender.
Once the squash is cooked, some of the moisture will have puddled into the bottoms of the bowls. Using a fork and your hand (in an oven mitt, this will be very hot) you will dump the water out of the bowl and move it onto a plate. Be very careful during this process, it is easy to break the squash apart. While this doesn’t ruin the dish, it does make it a lot messier instead of eating it out of a naturally formed bowl.
When the squash is transferred onto a plate, put the desired amount of butter into the bowl. I use ½ tbsp, but you can use more or less. Then sprinkle pepper to taste into it. Using a fork you will do the finishing touches. You will scrape the edges and bottom of your bowl to mash all the squash and butter together. It should look like the same consistency as mashed potatoes when you are done. You need to be careful doing this though, or you will rip through the bottom of the bowl, and once again, create a mess on your plate instead of keeping it contained in its own bowl.