Acorn Squash: Culinary Gem in Pumpkin Clan

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It’s pumpkin season, with orange, green, yellow, white and even multi-colored beauties found at roadside stands and markets. Like all families, the pumpkin clan has members that hardly get any attention. Acorn squash is a lightweight, weighing in between one and two pounds and four to seven inches long. It’s easy to process and has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that enhances sweet or savory dishes. One acorn squash serves two people.

Its natural sweetness is warmed with cinnamon in the easy to prepare side-dish. If you prefer it a little sweeter, add a tad of honey or maple syrup.

acorn squash

Baked Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash for 2 people

1 tablespoon butter


After scrubbing with a vegetable brush, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place ½ tablespoon of butter in the concave of each squash half. Place in a ceramic baking dish with a lid. Add ¼ inch water to the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle each squash half with cinnamon and cover with lid. Microwave until meat of the squash is tender, about 6 – 7 minutes. Mix the tender squash with the butter and cinnamon. Serve in the skin.

This recipe transforms rotisserie chicken into a savory stuffing with a Mexican-style flair.

Mexican stuffed squash

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Mexican-Style Chicken

Serves 4

°2 acorn squash, halved and seeded

°1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

°½ onion, chopped

°½ cup green bell pepper (or other pepper if preferred), chopped

°1 clove garlic, grated

°1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

°2 teaspoons smoked paprika (optional)

°freshly ground pepper

°1 15-ounce can red enchilada sauce

°1 cup frozen corn

°2 teaspoons lime juice

°1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed)

°1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for topping

°2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese

°Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash halves in a ceramic baking dish with a lid, cut side up. Add a little water to the bottom. Microwave until fork-tender, 6 – 7 minutes per acorn squash.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, a few grinds of pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Add the enchilada sauce, corn, lime juice and chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.

Divide the chicken filling evenly among the squash halves and top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is lightly golden and melted, 10 to 12 minutes. Top with sour cream and more cilantro.

Margie Mansure is an extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. As a registered dietitian/nutritionist chef, she offers nutrition and cooking classes to community members.

Written By

Margie Mansure, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMargie MansureExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences - Nutrition and Foods Call Margie Email Margie N.C. Cooperative Extension, Watauga County Center
Posted on Nov 2, 2022
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