Like I mentioned before, I love summer. I live for it, breathe for it, and can’t get enough of sunshine, beaches, and bodies of water. So, when autumn rolls around, I end up in a funk. I crave carbs and can’t seem to get into light lunches like salads. It’s hard to cope with dreary days that don’t deliver rays and even more difficult to keep our toddler entertained without turning on the TV. It’s clear to me, when I box up my bikinis for storage until spring, I come down with a slight case of winter depression.
However, seasonal recipes, holiday spices, and spending all afternoon in the kitchen seem to cheer me up. On our last trip to the farm stand, I picked up 3 acorn squash. What tasty recipe did I have in store for my purchase? No clue. But, that’s how I usually roll. To my surprise, I came up with 3 simple, family-friendly dishes, each with nutritional value to support getting through the winter blues.
So, if you’re like me, and you feel funky, when the carb cravings kick in as good weather and sunshine diminish, don’t depend on donuts or deep-dish pizza to help you beat the blues. Instead, try one of these sweet and savory acorn squash recipes to boost your mood.
It doesn’t get any easier than this seasonal snack. Rinse your squash, pat it dry, slice it in half, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into quarter-inch wide sections, looking just like a sunflower. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees until the squash gets soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Kids just might mistake this simple pasta dish for mac-n-cheese. Rinse the squash, save the seeds, and slice the squash into 1 inch chunks. If you want, you can peel the squash before cutting, but I really like the nutty tasting skin, so I don’t bother. Heat up a medium to large skillet, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a half of a small diced yellow onion, and enough chopped garlic to suit your palate. Sweat out the onions until they are soft and add the acorn squash.
While the squash cook, prepare your pasta. For health reasons, I’m trying to stick to a gluten free diet, so I recommend gluten free brown rice penne for this dish. If you don’t want to dabble in the GF pasta, substitute whole wheat. Once the squash is soft, deglaze your pan with a half cup of low sodium organic chicken broth. Scrape up all the goodies from the bottom of the pan and reduce your heat to let your sauce simmer down. Drain pasta and marry it in the pan with the squash. Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon and stir it all up. I love how the squash breaks up as you stir it in. Even though our girl picked out the big chunks of squash, I secretly know she gobbled up a good amount of Vitamin C from the broken up bits of squash she concluded to be cheese.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I suggest adding this sweet-scented side to your Pinterest board for holiday recipes. You do have a board for that, right?! This compote is festive enough for a feast and would pair well with any delicious meat. Prep a baking dish with non-stick spray and toss together cubed acorn squash and apples, a quarter cup of slivered almonds, and a quarter cup of raisins. Sprinkle spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to add hints of the holiday. Drizzle the dish with locally harvested honey. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve along side a tenderloin or turkey.