Roasted Acorn Squash with Grain and Warm Spice Salad


After an entire summer of light meals and fresh crisp produce, I start craving a warm hearty meal once the leaves start to turn. I know in some areas of the country it's still really warm, and turning your oven on sounds about as good as snuggling up to a porcupine. But here in the Pacific Northwest, fall has arrived! I absolutely love fall. It's by far my favorite season. Something about the crisp sunny days, bringing out the scarves and sweaters, the beautiful colors of all the leaves turning...and the food! I instantly want a slow-cooked roast, comforting potatoes, stews and warm fresh bread, ginger and cinnamon in everything, and squash. Oh, the magical squash! I don't think there's a thing I don't like about squash. Well, maybe that the majority of it isn't available year-round! There's nothing you can't really do with a squash. You can steam, boil, or roast it. You can chop it up, scoop it up, puree it up. It goes great in all kinds of stews, pastas, salad toppers, breads, pies, cakes, as a taco filling, a hearty addition to almost any entree, and in this case: it even acts as a bowl!

Which brings us to the humble acorn squash. It's small size and super-easy preparation makes it ideal for a quick, painless, week-night meal (and great for almost any number of people you happen to be serving). This "ease of use" so-to-speak, is why I've gravitated to it more and more over the years. I don't have to commit to a huge pumpkin or large butternut squash if I don't have more than one way I want to be using any said squash at one time. And not only are they so versatile and tasty, they're really good for you! Not only is it chocked full of vitamins (most noteably vitamin A, but in case you were curious, just the acorn alone has: vitamin C, manganese, potassium, folate, vitamin B complex, and omega 3 fatty acids [referenced here]), but fiber-rich and low in fat. And the ever-popular butternut is also high in folic acid. Now, what's not to like about all that!?!

So, if you haven't ventured down the gourd section of your local produce retailer, or think they are all solely used for decorating door steps and holiday table centers, I encourage you to pick up a little acorn squash and give it whirl. And if you end up not liking it plain, turn into these, which I know you'll love!


You will need:

1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
1/4 cup wheatberries*
1/4 cup couscous*
1 cup torn, packed spinach
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 TB pine nuts
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely shredded
2 TB lemon juice
2 TB apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 TB olive oil
1 TB honey
1/4 tsp. each: cinnamon, cumin
1/8 tsp. each: cloves, curry powder, turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash, cut side up, on a baking sheet or in a glass dish. sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dot with a little butter on the inside. Bake 30-35 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.

2. Meanwhile, cook grains according to package directions.

3. Place spinach in a large bowl and set aside.

4. Toss together the raisins, pine nuts, onion, garlic, and carrot in another bowl, set aside.

5. Whisk together the lemon juice through the spices in a small bowl and set aside.

6. When the grains are done cooking, drain if necessary and toss immediately with spinach, causing it to wilt slightly. Add in the raisin mixture and dressing, tossing well to combine. Spoon into squash halves and enjoy!

I do hope you get to enjoy some of this season's finest produce, and not just in the form of your Thanksgiving Day pie.



* These are just the grains I happened to have on hand. And in fact, the couscous was a harvest grain blend. Feel free to use whatever grains you like or keep handy. Even a mix of lentils and wild rice would be nice!


  1. That was sure tasty!

  2. I heart squash.

    And that looks soooooo good (which is really saying something because right now, nothing looks good to me!); it may need to end up on BC's "please make me dinner" list!