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Italian Roast Acorn Squash

I had hoped to be posting my homemade Chinese plum sauce recipe today.  But alas, I’ve been sick all week and haven’t gone to work, where I can pick as many plums as I want.  But my plum sauce post is mostly ready to go, so hopefully I can have photos for it by the end of next week, because it’s so tasty!    I have another Dr appointment coming up soon, to hopefully solve my health issues.  Turns out I have something called a nose polyp, which could explain all my sinus and ear issues.  Hope to get it taken care of soon.

Anyway, I decided to share our Wednesday night dinner with you.  This was my first time cooking with acorn squash.  I remember my mom making us roast acorn squash with butter and brown sugar as a kid.  I loved the flavor, but couldn’t handle the texture.  I gagged every time I tried to eat it.  When I mentioned that to Eric, he shouted “Me too!  Acorn squash makes me gag!”.  It was a cute little bonding moment.

We’ve gotten about 6 acorn squash with our CSA, so I really wanted to use it, but I needed to come up with something that had some texture to it.  I’d heard of some Italian recipes using acorn squash that were similar to lasagna, so I decided on incorporating mozzarella and tomatoes (plenty of tomatoes in our CSA too).

We have some early clementines, you know, those cute little mandarin oranges.  They’re one of my favorite things about winter, and I thought that their zest would be a fun addition to brighten up the dish.  I also included basil and onion, since they’re plentiful for us right now.  When you cut the acorn squash into rings, don’t toss the seeds!  You can butter and roast them just like pumpkin seeds, I actually like them a little better.  I’ll include my acorn squash seed secret in a post next week.

This was a fun, fresh meal that was the perfect bridge between summer and fall.  I served the squash with parmesan and garlic green beans, and a mozzarella salad.  It really expressed the bounty of fresh food available to us, which was perfect to eat while we watched a movie about sharecroppers (although they grew tobacco, not food!)

Have you ever seen Finian’s Rainbow?  It’s a musical with very special meaning to me, because it was my first play in Hawaii.  It gave me such a passion for musical theater, that for the next 8 years I did over 30 different shows in community and professional theater in Hawaii.  The movie was Francis Ford Coppola’s directing debut, so the cinematography is GORGEOUS, it’s not at all like the typical sound stage set musicals.  It was one of Fred Astaire’s final movie musicals, and man was he still a fantastic dancer!

The music is truly beautiful and memorable, and the writing is quite clever, full of all sorts of puns.  There is a lot of humor (and innuendo) that would be over a child’s head, but plenty of slapstick that will have them rolling on the floor with laughter.  One of the biggest themes in the play is racism, an integrated town tying to stand up to the bigotry of their government.  There are some adult themes besides  racism like smoking (they’re trying to create a new tobacco plant), and physical desire, but nothing that I would be embarrassed to watch.  So, add it to your Netflix cue, and when you get it, enjoy it with a couple slices of Italian Roast Acorn Squash.  Do you have an acorn squash recipe that won’t make me gag?  I’d love some more ideas!

Italian Roast Acorn Squash

serves 2 as main dish or 4 as side


1 acorn squash
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 red onion thinly shaved
zest of one clementine
2 TBS roughly chopped fresh basil
3 roma tomatoes chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
dash of pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh mozzarella


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the ends off of the squash and then cut it into four rings.  Use your fingers to work the seeds and stringy center out of each ring.

Pour olive oil in a frying pan, heat it on low and add the onion and clementine zest.  Stir occaisionally and let cook until the onions are goldeny brown.  Add chopped basil, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook until it’s thickened and soft, about 5 minutes.

Arrange squash rings overlapping in a casserole dish with a cover.  Spoon tomato mixture over the squash.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, squash should be easily pierced with a fork.  Top with chunks of mozzarella, turn oven to broil and place squash under the broiler.  Watch while it cooks, about 2 minutes or until cheese is starting to brown and bubble.  Serve rings with tomato and cheese topping, eat out of the squash skin.

Approximate cost/serving: This hardly cost us anything because we got almost all the ingredients in our CSA.  If you get the acorn squash in season, it can cost as little as 50 cents at a local farm.  Even in the grocery store I’ve seen it around $1.  At that price, with the other ingredients, it costs about $2.10 to make.  So for a main dish (two rings) it’s $1.05 a serving.

Vegetarian/Gluten Free: It’s already vegetarian, you can make it vegan by leaving off the mozzarella.  Totally gluten free as well.

If you love Dianasaur Dishes, would you nominate me for a Foodbuzz Food Blog Award?  I so think my sister (who did the graphic design for my blog) deserves the Best Visual Blog Award!

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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.

4 thoughts on “Italian Roast Acorn Squash”

  1. Looks delicious! But I have to say, I’m still trying to hold on to summer. Acorn squash means fall and winter to me….boo:( I’ll try this out in a few weeks. Thanks!


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