– 1 large acorn squash
– 3 tablespoons maple syrup
– 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
– A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
– Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
2. Begin by cutting the acorn squash in half from top to bottom. With a sturdy knife, gently scoop out the seeds and discard them. Now, place each half, flat side down, on a cutting board, and slice them into generous wedges, about 1-inch thick. Feel free to adjust the size of the wedges according to your preference—just aim for uniformity to ensure even roasting.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper (if desired), salt, and black pepper. This flavorful mixture will add depth and complexity to the sweet and savory profile of the dish.
4. Next, toss the acorn squash wedges into the bowl with the maple syrup mixture. Ensure each wedge is well coated by gently stirring or using your hands, allowing the flavors to seep into the flesh of the squash.
5. Place the coated acorn squash wedges onto the prepared baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer. It may be necessary to use two baking sheets or roast in batches if you have a smaller oven.
6. Slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven, setting a timer for 25-30 minutes. Roast the squash until it caramelizes and becomes tender, flipping the wedges halfway through cooking to allow for even browning. Keep an eye on them during the last few minutes to avoid burning.
7. Once the acorn squash has reached a desired golden hue and tenderness, carefully remove it from the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes to avoid scorching your taste buds, and then transfer the wedges to a serving platter.
8. As you place the maple-roasted acorn squash on the table, take a moment to savor the sweet and savory aroma filling your kitchen. The tender flesh will melt in your mouth, showcasing the delicate balance of flavors.
Tips and Variations:
– For a touch of freshness, garnish the roasted acorn squash with chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or thyme, just before serving.
– To add some crunch, sprinkle a handful of chopped pecans or walnuts over the wedges before roasting.
– For a more substantial meal, consider serving the maple-roasted acorn squash alongside grilled chicken or roasted vegetables.
Maple-roasted acorn squash brings together the best of both worlds, combining the comforting sweetness of maple syrup with the smoky warmth of paprika. This delightful side dish is bound to become a staple on your fall menu, captivating your taste buds and warming your heart with each bite. So, gather your loved ones, create your own stories around the table, and let the flavors of this dish bring a touch of autumn magic into your home.