The Oven Stays on This Winter

The best way to make your rising heating bills work for you is Two Timing!

Baked Acorn Squash with Mushroom Sauce

Okay, I know I got you all to sit up and take notice with that opener. Whoa! Two time? Not the Real Housewives kind or the intriguing kind in House of Cards. Okay, I just started watching the latter series and intrigue is only the starting point. I have just seen 3 episodes of Season 1, so DO NOT tell me what happens. I am hopping with excitement. I want to just do a marathon of all the episodes with popcorn and bottles of wine. But, well, today is Monday and work needs to get done {wan smile}. So, like a guilty pleasure I am doling out the episodes over the week with promises of longer romp next weekend IF I get ahead of the curve. :)

So, what does this have to do with today's post? Nothing, other than that due to this dish's abject simplicity, it took me 7 minutes flat to prep while the show carried on in the background. Into the oven and back I hopped onto the couch with a brimming glass to give the episode my full attention. Paused again to take it out and serve timing my finish plus a few truffles as dessert with the closing captions. That was 50 minutes of past paced political chess and being enamored by Mr. Spacey while I prepped, cooked, ate and felt sated, in so many ways!

Oh and the two timing? Well, having the oven on basically warms up your house so much that you can turn the actual heating down, way down. And, that lasts for a few hours until the oven cools down completely.

Bottom line, bake more in Winter. It is good for you, in so many ways...

Prep to Bake Acron Squash

So, let me tell you a bit about the dish itself. Acorn squashes are wonderful winter produce. They are of the pumpkin family, with more robustness both in body and ability to hold up to baking. They have a touch of sweetness in their flesh that accentuates as they ripen. Yes, they do ripen. They start a dense forest green on the skin and as they become more fruit, the skin turns a glorious orange just like Fall. It is a brilliant hue to witness in the middle of a grey, cloudy Winter, really. I personally prefer the more ripe squashes for two reasons. The flavor is a touch sweet and that sweetness caramelizes headily during the baking process. Besides, the squash is easier to work with at this stage. Raw squash can be pretty tough to cut through.

This late in the season, it is more often that I find perfect squashes for my preference. There are so many ways you can use them, from slicing and roasting them with a kiss of chili flakes for some heat or making purees to be used in risottos or the quintessential soup. Now, with the show running, I didn't have time to make multiple dishes or go through multiple steps as for soups. It simply had to be a oven to table meal, light but filling and hearty and not leaving me wanting a main.

I had made this before for an impromptu dinner as a first course. And, I figured I would try it out as a full blown mail. It works beautifully as either. As an appetizer, it can be shared between four to six, depending on the size of the squash. For a main, it works very well with some fresh crusty soda bread or sourdough to soak up the rich earthy sauce.

Baking the mushrooms in the cream, infuses the cream with a wonderful earthy note as the mushrooms cook down. I used cremini because they looked best at the market. This dish will be absolutely fantastic with shitake or chanterelle.

Baking Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash Baked with Mushroom Cream

Other Squash recipes I think you should try -

The rich intensity of caramel,

Molasses Glazed Acorn Squash

Simple and elegant,

Roasted squash wedges with grapefruit and pomegranate

I love meals in a bake,

Quinoa stuffed acorn squash

Because it is Winter,

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

And, for another something different,

Butternut squash cake

Baked Acorn Squash with Mushroom Cream


1 medium semi-ripe acorn squash

6-7 medium sized cremini mushrooms or other, sliced thin (take a handful and go with how much you need to fill the cavity)

1/4 cup of non-homgenized, non-ultra-pasteurized cream

touch of sriracha sauce

wedges of lime

1 tsp chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F (400F if using non-convection oven).

Slice the tip end of the squash just enough so the squash will balance on a sheet. Cut the squash in half horizontally. Scoop out the seeds. Place the halves on a baking dish.

Dust the insides with a little salt and pepper. Stuff the insides with mushrooms. Pack it in; they shrink fair amount while cooking.

Drizzle the sriracha on top and then pour in the cream. You may need more if you squashes are leaner in flesh. Ideally you want enough cream to come to the lip of each half. If you run out of cream, its ok, use what you have.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes until the flesh is really tender and a fork goes through like through butter.

Remove from oven and rest the squash for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle parsley and serve halves in bowls with lime wedges and bread to soak up the sauce.

If making for a larger crowd or serving as a smaller portion, skip the bread, slice each half into thirds or less and divide the sauce into each plate.