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The Kitchn: This is the quickest way to cook acorn squash

From the 5 easy weeknight recipes to try this week series
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You can make a tasty and fuss-free acorn squash.

There are some days when you just don’t want to turn on the oven. Other days, the oven is occupied with other components for dinner. That’s why I love this method for cooking acorn squash in the microwave! It’s such an easy way to create a flavorful and fuss-free side dish in a matter of minutes.

Using the microwave yields a perfectly tender acorn squash in a snap. Here I used a very simple combination of butter, sugar, salt and nutmeg to season the squash, but you can feel free to get creative and discover your own favorite flavor combinations.

Once you have a tender and perfectly cooked acorn squash half, there are a wide variety of ways to enjoy the vegetable. Of course, you can simply take a spoon and scoop out the flesh bite by delicious bite. You can also use the acorn squash as a “bowl” to hold soups or stews, grains, or salads.

How long does squash take to cook in the microwave?

The time it takes to cook squash in the microwave will vary depending on the wattage of your particular appliance and the size of the acorn squash. The good news is, you can easily test the squash for doneness and adjust the timing along the way as you microwave the acorn squash.

My microwave is 1600 watts, and I used an acorn squash that weighed 1 1/2 pounds. It took me about six minutes for the first part of the cooking process, and then an additional two minutes after I added the butter, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg.

Can you eat the skin of acorn squash?

Yes, it is possible to eat the skin of acorn squash. Through the cooking process it becomes tender and easier to chew than the skin from other types of squash. With this recipe, I like to simply use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the squash and leave the skin as a “bowl” rather than eating the skin as well. Choose to do whatever you find most delicious!

What goes with acorn squash?

The subtle sweet flavor of acorn squash allows it to pair well with a variety of herbs and spices as well as sweet or savory additions. Rosemary, sage, thyme and tarragon are all wonderful herbs that go with acorn squash. Sweet additions such as maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger also play well with the natural sweet flavor of the squash. If you prefer to balance out the sweetness with savory components, try topping it with crumbled bacon or toasted pecans or walnuts.

Microwave Acorn Squash

Serves 2

  • 1 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Cut 1 acorn squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Place the halves cut-side down in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic baking dish.

2. Add 2 tablespoons water to the baking dish. Microwave on high for 6 minutes. The squash should be tender but still slightly firm.

3. Remove the dish from the microwave. Carefully flip the halves (they will be hot). Cut 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in half and place a piece in the hollowed-out area of each half. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

4. Microwave on high until the flesh is very tender and the butter and sugar are bubbly, about 2 minutes more. Serve with a spoon to scrape out the flesh and dip in the sweet, buttery mixture in the center.

Recipe note: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to five days

(Kristina Vanni is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.)

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