roasted acorn squash with cilantro dressing

Thanksgiving_2006 (7)

Among my favorite food, squash firmly holds its own. I like all kinds: spaghetti, butternut, acorn. While looking over a menu a few nights ago, I picked the tagliatelli mostly because it came with a butternut squash. My only complaint is that some squash can be so hard to cut. I’m a wee bit weakling and the squash is sturdy and hard. Trying to slice it feels like I am going to lose an appendage at any moment.

Unless of course, you have wonderful helpers, strong and manly, to do the dirty deed for you, leaving you to just waltz in and cook the vegetable – truly the easy part.

Acorn squash is both tasty and good for you. And if you took it, sliced it, and roasted it in the oven sans any spices, it would still come out delicious and great. And sometimes, naked squash, as I like to call it, is just what you need. But on other days, you might want to give it a little extra kick: some red, hot chile, and a dash of tabasco sauce to the marinade. Surprisingly easy to make and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!

2 (1 1/2 – to 1 3/4-lb) acorn squash
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red chile, including seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
dash of Tabasco sauce
1 tsp of really good Balsamic vinegar

Cooking Instructions:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Halve squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends. Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Toss squash with black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in 2 large shallow baking pans. Roast squash, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

While squash roasts, mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile (to taste), cilantro, Tabasco sauce, balsamic vinegar and remaining 1/4 cup oil until combined. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, 2006

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