4 Reasons to Love Acorn Squash

By Rochelle Bilow

We love all kinds of squash equally. We’re going to ‘fess up: Acorn squash is the best squash there is. From its deep orange color to its unfussy functionality, we can’t get enough of the acorn. Here are four good reasons why.

1. Skin Is In
There’s a lot of chatter these days about how great delicata squash is, thanks to its thin, edible skin. And yeah, we dig that stuff. But why should delicata get special mention? You can eat the skin on almost any squash. (We would steer clear of gnarly kabocha, though.) Acorn squash is actually the best choice for skin-on squash, because if you leave it intact before you slice it you end up with pretty ridged half-moons—the perfect addition to any fall-themed menu. Does delicata have ridged edges? Didn’t think so.

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2. Acorn Squash Seeds > Pumpkin Seeds
The best part about carving a jack-o’-lantern is toasting and eating the seeds. But it’s a lot of work (and a lot of pumpkin guts) for little return—you’re just going to chuck that rapidly softening pumpkin a few days after Halloween. That’s why acorn squash is so awesome: Not only can you save and roast the seeds as you would with a pumpkin, you can actually eat the entire squash. If you want to go really crazy, we suggest sprinkling a handful of toasted seeds over half-moons of roasted squash for a totally snout-to-tail dining experience. (Yes, we know that, technically, you can do that with any squash. But read on to point number three, which is where acorn really shines….)

3. It’s Better than a Bread Bowl
Everyone knows that edible bowls are superior to non-edible bowls. Who wants to eat less when they can eat more? An edible bowl provides an elegant solution to this desire. Simply slice the squash in half lengthwise and chop off a tiny piece of the skin so that it sits flat (nobody likes a Weeble as a bowl). Then scoop out the seeds and any extra stringy bits. Roast it with plenty of butter, salt, and pepper. Once it’s cooked through but not mushy, fill it as you would any normal bowl: with rice pilaf, a soup, a salad. Not only is it a tasty little serving vessel, now you have fewer dishes to wash!

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4. Bonus: Fall Decor!
Those miniature lumpy, bumpy gourds available for purchase at farmstands and pumpkin patches sure are cute. But while they may look darling, they lack one important quality: They are not edible (see point number three, everything should be edible). Acorn squash has the benefit of both tasting great and looking like the coffee table of a small woodland creature (in a good way). Let’s face it: There’s no squash as cute as an acorn squash. Kabocha is beautiful on the inside, but its exterior looks like it needs a chemical peel. Hubbard is properly autumnal, but it’s a clunker and far less easy to work with. Spaghetti? Don’t make us laugh. Butternut? We’re not even going to get into what that thing looks like. If it’s a functional, deeply sweet, gorgeous squash you’re after, there can only be one: There can only be acorn squash.

Recipe: Acorn Squash with Dates and Thyme
By Alison Roman

3 small acorn squash (about 3 lb.), scrubbed, cut into ½” wedges
½ bunch thyme
4 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 dates, pitted, quartered
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss squash, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and coconut oil in a large baking dish; season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 40–45 minutes. Add dates; toss to coat. Roast until squash are very tender and dates are soft, 12–15 minutes.

Arrange squash, dates, garlic, and thyme on a platter, spoon any oil in dish over squash, and sprinkle with sea salt.

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photo: Ture Lillegraven