Acorn squash is a variety of winter squash that is shaped like a large acorn. Winter squash is considered a fruit. The size is approximately 4 inches in diameter and 7 inches in length. The outer skin is either green, yellow, or orange. The interior flesh is a golden orange and is naturally sweet when roasted. This squash can last for up to 3 months when stored whole in a cool dry space.
Cooked acorn squash is dense and filling. However, it has no fat or cholesterol. And, it is a good source of dietary fiber. This fruit is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. You can also clean up the seeds and roast them. Squash seeds are loaded with vitamin E, phosphorus, and manganese. As well, they are a good source of plant-based protein.
Cooking Acorn Squash
Acorn squash is most often baked or roasted. It can be prepared savory or sweet. Savory winter squash is either sliced, seasoned, and roasted or stuffed with sausage, grains, and aromatics and baked. Sweet squash can be cooked in the same manner with the addition of butter and sugar or maple syrup. You can also make cooked squash into a puree to use in a pie or pudding. I have made energy bars with mashed acorn squash being the binder.
There are two main recipes here. The first one is for easy and quick bite sized crescents coated in avocado oil and herbs and roasted in the air fryer. These can be eaten by hand, if desired. The second recipe is a little more complex and includes both savory and sweet components. The squash is sliced in half, cleaned, and roasted. Then, each half is filled with brown rice, sausage, and apple stuffing and roasted again.
I have included a hearty fall or winter salad recipe to serve with the air-fried acorn squash.
Roasted Acorn Squash Crescents (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)
- 1 acorn squash
- 1-1/2 TBS avocado oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Total time:25 min – Prep time:10 min – Cook time:15 min – Serves:3 people
1. Slice the stem and root end off of the acorn squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds and strings out and discard. Place the squash cut side down and slice in half lengthwise again. Slice each quarter into 1/2-inch thick crescents.
2. Preheat the air fryer to 370°F for 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the crescents in a bowl. Add the oil, thyme, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Toss all together to coat the squash.
4. Place the squash in the fryer basket or crisper plate. Cook for 5 minutes, then shake the bucket. Cook for another 5 minutes and shake again. Finish cooking for approximately 5 more minutes until the flesh is cooked through and has softened.
5. Place on a serving platter. The squash pieces can be eaten by hand or with a knife and fork. The skin is a little too tough for my tastes, but some people do eat it.
Roasted and Stuffed Air Fryer Acorn Squash Halves (Gluten Free)
- 1 medium/large acorn squash
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 2 Gluten free Italian sausage links (approximately 8 ounces)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 of a crisp apple, diced
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 TBS dried cranberries or raisins
- 1 TBS toasted walnuts, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Nutritional yeast and chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Total time: 35 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 25 min – Serves: 2 people
1. Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop the seeds and strings out and discard. Brush the cut faces of the squash halves with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the halves, cut side down, in the air fryer basket or on the crisper plate. Turn the fryer on to 390°F. Cook the squash for 10 to 12 minutes until the flesh has just softened. Make the stuffing while the squash roasts.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the ground meat from the sausages and cook until the meat is browned, breaking it up with a spoon. Remove the cooked sausage to a plate. Discard the fat from the pan and wipe it down with a paper towel.
4. Turn the heat under the pan down to medium. Add 3 more teaspoons of the oil to the pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano to the pan and cook for an additional 30 to 60 seconds until the garlic is aromatic.
5. Add the sausage meat and diced apple to the pan. Stir and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the rice, cranberries, and walnuts. Mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Remove the squash halves from the air fryer. Turn them over and fill the bowl of each with equal amounts of the stuffing. (There will be some extra that you can serve warm on the side). Place the squash back in the air fryer and continue to cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the stuffing is warm and golden brown on top. The edges of the squash will start to brown and curl.
7: Serve the stuffed squash halves as a main dish with a nice fall salad on the side. You can garnish the top of the squash with a little nutritional yeast and parsley. A recipe for a fall salad follows.
Baby Greens with Goat Cheese, Pomegranate Seeds, and Pepitas (Vegetarian & Gluten Free)
- 1/2 small shallot, minced
- 1-1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 3 cups baby kale
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted pepitas
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Total time: 10 min – Prep time: 10 min – Serves: 4 people
1. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stream in the olive oil while whisking so that the dressing emulsifies.
2. In a large serving bowl, combine arugula and kale. Add the dressing and toss to coat the greens. Add the cheese and toss gently to incorporate. Top the salad with pomegranate seeds and pepitas.
3. Serve the salad with the stuffed acorn squash or alongside the roasted squash crescents.