Acorn squash is so called because of its shape. If you are having trouble getting hold of it, just use butternut squash – they have slightly different flavours but you should spend your time cooking, not shopping. Peanuts are one of those little ingredients you forget about; choose unsalted and try to roast a few extra, as you will definitely eat some before they get to the table. Or keep the extra in the cupboard – they are great for adding to a stir-fry, salad or curry. There are two ways to prepare the squash, so read the recipe first so you know which one you will be doing. And keep the seeds.
You could also try mashing and adding different flavours; squash lend themselves to so many flavours – try chilli, rosemary, nutmeg, garlic…
1 large acorn squash, or a butternut if needs must
pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp demerara sugar
80g unsalted peanuts
sprinkle of truffle oil
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
First of all the squash – you will need a strong knife. You can do this two ways and both ways have their benefits. Number one is to cook it with the skin on, which is easier but means you have to fiddle with it at the end and run the risk of breaking it up. Number two, you can peel the squash first, which is trickier as it is a tough beast, but this way means that at the end you can just easily serve as it is. Some people eat the roasted skin but this can be hit and miss depending on the thickness of the skin.
Lay the squash on its side and cut it in half lengthways. Next cut each half into three, lengthways again. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and reserve – you can use them for something else (see right). Now either peel off the skins with a sharp knife or just carry on.
Now, place the wedges in a roasting tray with the flesh side uppermost. Drizzle with a little oil, a sprinkle of salt, the cinnamon and demerara sugar; the sugar will help create colour and stickiness. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender when prodded with a knife.
Place the peanuts on a baking tray and pop in the oven to roast at the same time as you put in the squash. The nuts will only take around 10 minutes to take on some colour, but keep a check on them and turn them once, as they are one of those things that tend to scorch very rapidly when you are not looking. When the peanuts are golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool. These will store in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.
As soon as the squash is cooked, you are ready to serve. If you have left the skin on, you will need to carefully remove it now.
Place the squash on plates. Drizzle on some truffle oil, being careful, as it is strong. Then add the peanuts and scatter on the spring onion, to give a little bite to the dish. Finally add a sprinkle of sea salt and away you go.
WHAT ABOUT THE SEEDS?
Clean them of the fibrous bits of string and flesh under running water. Pat dry on kitchen paper, then place in a bowl, coat in a drizzle of olive oil and roast on a baking tray for 15 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, or until golden. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve, or even try some icing sugar instead of salt. A snack using your leftovers – very nice.