unflinchingly-good-things Recipes

acorn squash with chile-lime vinaigrette

A firm believer in balance, or some fumbling approximation of it, if I tell you about the bewildered, exhausted and terrifying, it is only fair that I tell you that today — a day I was certain was Monday the whole day long (as in, “hey, why is the Times updating their food section a day early?”) — was a knock-it-out-of-the-park great day. Sparing you all the driveling details, suffice it to say there has been a raise, bragging rights and even the ability to make someone else’s day. I took this string of greatness to the store (not jeans, or course, I know better than to rub my luck in the face of the narrow-hipped crowd) where I found a sweater I suspect I love enough to wear it until it’s threadbare and a pair of heels that (crosses fingers that they will continue to) almost feel comfortable.

Although I initially eschewed our first taste of it in August, I am unbelievably excited that fall is here, especially now that September and October have been so very kind to let us hang onto an open-toed cardigan-ed existence for all of these bonus weeks. Guilty as charged, I’ve been busy cooking and eating things I haven’t photographed, and I’m here now to confess my food blogging sin so we can all move on to the things I wasn’t so remiss about.

Last Thursday night, in celebration of the arrival of two of the most fiercely sharp and stunning knives from two of the most fiercely sharp and stunning friends, I made Molly’s version of one of my favorite dishes, the mighty onion tart. The last time I made an onion tart, that time a la Julia Child, I diced in some bacon and gruyere, but this time there was none of that and I loved it more. Some people enjoy finding extra flavors to tuck into dishes; I get excited when I find out they taste just as good with less. The only thing I altered was that I added a pinch of cayenne, not enough to make you grimace but enough to occasionally prod you awake from your sweet, buttery coma. Being awake is important when your dinner tastes this good and there are crumbs, delicate crumbs!, that need attending to.

feets

Sunday night brought us sweet potatoes and baby brussels sprouts from the Abington Square farmers market, as well as field greens so good in a salad I’m just going to announce right now that I’m going to at least try to not buy bagged or boxed ever again. The brussels were roasted with olive oil and salt until crispy and flaky like phyllo on the outside and nutty on the inside. The potatoes were wedged and sprinkled with this blend of spices that if you’re like me, you’ll probably assume you’ll hate, but then you’ll like it so much you’ll have to reconsider you’re relationship with fennel and cilantro. Only good things could come of this. It should be noted that everything we bought at the market was grown in New Jersey – like me! – so I must arrogantly presume that’s why they were so good in every way.

Now that we’re all caught up with the un-photographed and I’ve hopefully whetted your appetite, two more things to consider: roasted acorn squash wedges with chili-lime-garlic vinaigrette and roasted haricot vert with toasted acorn squash seeds. Finding a stash of energy where I was certain it was depleted, I cooked these things at an illogical 9 p.m. tonight while my husband played volleyball. (He didn’t win, don’t ask.) I know eating dinner at 10:45 p.m. is ridiculous, irresponsible and obviously badly planned, but you know what? I’ll take a perfect dinner at the very end of a perfect day over average take-out on a well-timed terrible day any time, and I suspect you would too.

Maybe even tomorrow, you know, because I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s your turn next for an uber-spectacular one.

roasted haricot vert, toasted acorn squash seeds

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2006

Makes 4 servings.

2 (1 1/2 – to 1 3/4-lb) acorn squash
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons 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

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, and remaining 1/4 cup oil until combined. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.

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77 comments on acorn squash with chile-lime vinaigrette

  1. The recipes sound good, especially the onion tart and this one with squash, which looks like a good way to put more personality into an vegetable that needs some reinvention … not sure about the spice mix though, especially the fennel, since i´m 100% anti-anise.

    About dinner at 10:30 p.m., it doesn´t shock me one bit. The usual dinner time here in Argentina is 9:30 during weeknights and more like 10:30 or 11 p.m. during the weekend, and now that I´m living on my own, I´ve eaten at 11 quite a few times.

    I hear you about rather eating later, but decently. I mean, takeout is fine once a week or something like that, but it gets old soon and it can´t compare with a homecooked meal. Who would like to eat chinese takeout or pizza 7 days a week? Even pizza gets old like that!!! And yes, my Italian grandpa must be turning in his grave after that comment hahaha

  2. I never liked onions much until I got married as was introduced to zwiebel kuchen… that’s the German version of an onion tart. Now my aunt-in-law lavishes it on me every time I visit. It’s the same basic filling of your lauded onion tart and each region or household has it’s own favorites for pastry type. It’s traditionally served this time of year with the new wine. Try seasoning your next one with caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Yummmmm

  3. Marce – Hear, hear. I have this pet peeve about squash and sweet potato and pretty much most things with a mild sweetness – I loathe when sugar is added to them. It’s like taking the sweet and raising it to the sweet. So, I’m always looking for recipes that throw in contrasting flavors. This is another recipe that does a great job of balancing the inherent sweetness of squash. As for the fennel seeds, I was/am exactly the same way, but this was the essence of everything a spice blend is supposed to be: all the flavors wrap around each other and no one stands up too loudly. It adds an element to the blend, but you don’t taste fennel per se. Well, that’s my best effort to convince; it’s all I’ve got.

    Becky – Sounds delicious. And now, after trying to convince Marce to try fennel seeds, I have to admit that I’m not mad about caraway (the seed) but I like the flavor (ground). I suppose I’ll save that yammering for rye breads, next.

  4. roasted brussles sprouts and creamy, buttery caramelized onions are indeed, unflinchingly good things!
    there must be some cosmic food fog floating about the city….
    and if that squash tastes only half as good as the picture is beautiful, I’m game to try them.

  5. Hi Deb! I just wanted to let you know that I have been with you since ivillage & I absolutely love your blog & all of the delicious pictures! Also, my husband & I have just moved into our first place together and I am a novice cook at best, do you recommend any cooking websites and/or books that will help me navigate my way around the kitchen a little better? Thanks so much!!

  6. Ann – The smell of caramelized onions is better than bacon. That’s the highest compliment I can give it and it’s one of my hands-down favorite flavors on earth. The cayenne (and I do mean the tiniest pinch) is completely mild in there, but manages to brighten up the whole thing. I wish I had more right now.

    Tammi – I could never pick favorites! As far as I’m concerned, one can never have enough shiny sharp things. Though, at five now, plus an inexpesive bread knife, I think we’re good for a while.

    Theresa – Aside from (ahem! right here! waving arms…) the world of food blogs, what are you looking to learn? I love answering questoins. If it’s simple, untimidating recipes you are looking for, I think Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything is one of the best first cookbooks I’ve ever seen, my Joy of Cooking included. Blashphemy, I know, but he really leads you through the basics and more elaborates with a minimum of steps and aggravation, great for a newbie.

    Alanna – I always pick fall over summer because it’s my favorite, but for cooking especially, the climate in the kitchen is so much better when you don’t have A/Cs running. And squash is so pretty! And filling! And healthy! (Yes, I just finished my coffee.)

  7. Definitely due for a fantastic day and tomorrow might just be mine- I’ll be in Mexico! :)
    Looks great, you’ve got a new fan. Delicious!

  8. Cilantro, lime, and chile pepper are not the accompaniements that immediately leap to mind when I consider acorn squash but it sounds delicious. And it LOOKS so good, how could it not taste good? The acorn squash is gorgeous!

  9. When I loaded the page and saw the picture, drool just started forming.
    Now that the acorn squash is in season I’ve been buying 2-3 a week at the market. I just split them, scoop out the seeds and goo, drizzle a little olive oil over them, salt/pepper and roast for 25 min. . .scoop them straight out of the shell. . .sometimes adding cumin (I’m a junkie for the cumin). . .but this looks like a delish alternative for me. Thanks for sharing:)

  10. Speaking of shopping, do you mind if I ask where you got those shoes in your leaf photo? I’m grooving on them. Are they flats? Wedges? Is it okay if I have nothing to say about squash?

  11. Yvo – Mexico! Please, get enough sun and summer weather in for all of us. Also, tequila, but that’s really just for me.

    Howard – Yes, well, thinner ones. They do that just to mess with you. :)

    Julie – Ditto, which is why it drew me in. Anything but brown sugar or cinnamon or honey. It really works though, a lovely contrast.

    Beth – Cumin junkie! Me too. I was convinced this recipe wasn’t going to be good, and was just going to do the cumin/s/p thing. I hope if because we loved it, it means you will too.

    Frostine – No, there is no squash-only rule in the discussions! Heh. Those were actually the shoes that got me to the store in the first place. I don’t know how, but somehow after 2+ years of near-incessant wear, they’re now giving me blisters. Huh? They were from 9 West, they have a tiny kitten heel, and I’ll miss them. New, unpictured ones are from Aldo, which actually had some shoes that looked somewhat like these.

  12. The mighty onion tart conquers again! Those caramelized onions, that butter – it is a thing of beauty, I have to say. And I’ll have to try your cayenne trick next time. I love the idea of a filling with a little bitty kick.

    Ooh, and the acorn squash? I had bookmarked that recipe and am now bumping it to the top of the list…

    Great post, as always, Deb!

  13. roasted haricot vert..
    yeah, I was gonna ask the same thing. I think I will try to find those b/c regular green beans gross me out. Weird.
    Deb, not to throw a “you’re so great party”, but how nice was that of you to tell Theresa she could turn to you. What a dear girl you are, and the photo of you with your shiny black shoes and dark jeans and houndstooth check coat (which I always thing of a Chanel plaid :) is so…..gosh, just so….insouciently classic New York style. Loves it.
    I hate the cold, so the only upside to the weather for me when we move to Long Island is going to be wearing such stylish gear. Here in Fl, it’s tanks and jeans and sandles almost year round.

  14. I love your new site. The photos are great and the ideas and recipes give me much needed inspiration for my kitchen endeavors. I’m looking forward to trying the potatoes and squash and I love baked brussel sprouts. I’ve baked them (I cut the brussel in half) in butter, salt and a drizzle of maple syrup and then broil them at the end until they’re crispy city on the outside.

  15. I made this last night and it was fabulous. I was a little worried the flavors of the vinaigrette would be too strong or “unusual” for some of my guests, but everyone seemed to love it. My acorn squash never really browned on the bottom (because I used glass dishes to bake it in?) so it wasn’t as pretty as your gorgeous photo, but it was still so nice looking with the various bright colors. Definite company food — time consuming to make but yummy and pretty. :-)

  16. I made this recipe last night, and it was amazing! I bought a bunch of squash impulsively on Sunday, and was struggling with what to do. I remembered that you love squash, and I found a bunch of recipes to try – so thank you!

  17. I have made this several times with just the garlic and lime and I loved it. Last night I made the entire recipe with the cilantro/ chili and brought it to the Chilean restaurant that I work at Christmas’ party. I cannot believe the raves that I got, everyone just LOVED IT!!! I put the squash on a foil lined alum pan and it roasts perfectly, I leave it in a little longer and the skin is soft and edible. Delish!!!

  18. Also, in the photo above, it looks like a green chili pepper was used instead of a red one as the recipe calls for…..is there a difference in flavor from the green to the more ripened red??? Anyone know??

  19. Hi Teresa — I used a jalapeno, because they’re a little milder and I prefer things a little more mild. Not all red chiles are hotter than all green chiles, but many are. Jalapenos are supposed to be on the milder side, but their heat varies wildly. The best tip I have picked up from a chef who works with these ingredients daily is to take a sliver off the end of a pepper, touch your finger to it and then your finger to your tongue — if it’s crazy hot, use less of it, if it seems on the mild side, use more.

  20. I tried this recipe, exactly as is- it is wonderful! The vinaigrette is an excellent complement to the squash. I will definitely use this recipe again.

  21. My husband and I just finished our dinner: some chicken and the acorn squash. We’ve gobbled up the whole thing (the entire recipe) barely touching the chicken; the squash took the center stage. It is an excellent recipe. I made a couple of minor substitutions (not wanting to run to the store) and it still turned out great: used red pepper flakes to mince with the garlic; used parsley instead of cilantro.The flavors combined well. Very easy to make. Great taste. I roasted the squash on a foil lined jelly roll (only needed one for two squashes) and they roasted beautifully. The vinaigrette has a wonderful refreshing taste and I will use this recipe for other veggies as well.
    Thank you, Deb.

  22. I just found your site the other day because of Entertainment Weekly, please their little hearts. In the last week I have made the Oatmeal Cookies (which are now my absolute favorite! Have you ever had them with some luscious vanilla ice cream? Sublime!)

    Then I tried the microwave potato chips and they are delish! loved them!

    Tonight I roasted the Acorn Squash. I’ve never had this and always wondered what they were like, but never knew exactly what to do with them. Honestly, I have to tell you that this is now my favorite veggie even surpassing roasted corn, asparagus and green beans. It is just veggie heaven!

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten but I plan on working my way thru as many of your recipes that I can. I’m pretty sure that Orego Cookies are next, but then I hear that shortcake calling to me. Oh the lovely decisions I now get to make.

    Thank you!!

  23. I believe it was roasted green beans from that month’s Cooks Illustrated. They were good, but my favorite is still just to boil them for two to four minutes.

  24. My compost pile generously grew 10 acorn squash all by itself this summer, so I have been looking for recipes. Made this tonight using a jalapeno that had turned red. It was just delicious! Was skeptical about leaving the skin on, but it was very tender.

  25. yummmmm…made this tonight. What a lovely fall dish to have on a cold October night. Can’t wait to make this for a get-together with friends and “wow” em’. Thanks for all of the wonderful recipes!!!

  26. I’m new to acorn squash but very excited to try this tonight. Can anyone clarify the skin issue? You don’t have to peel this? Is it because it separates on its own or because it’s edible? Help.

  27. I’m making this dish right now. I’ve made the mistake of not setting the oven at 450 for this recipe. What results is hard skin. Just make sure your oven is preheated to 450, and you should be fine (e.g., no need to peel). I also like to put it in for more than 35 minutes, just to get it even softer with crisp edges. Also, I’ve modified the vinaigrette so that it’s much more cilantro-based. The recipe posted here is lighter in the sauce than I’ve been doing.

  28. Perfect! We’ve made this squash about once a week since I tried this recipe. We love the combination of the natural sour, spicy, and sweet. Our new favorite!

  29. I made this last night, and it was the highlight of our meal. Loved all the flavors, and the fact that it didn’t include sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon!

  30. I made this two nights ago and I’m still thinking about it! At first I thought making 2 squash would be too much just for my honey and I, but we wanted more! I just love the contrasting flavors. My fiance always says that he doesn’t like squash, but he loved this. I’m convinced that it’s because it doesn’t have that sweetness overload that most recipes for acorn squash and sweet potatoes have.

    Thanks Deb!

  31. Deb, as usual, you have made a fabulous dish! Caramelized squash, a delightful spicy yet bright dressing. I was only wishing I had doubled the recipe. As always, thank you.

  32. I made this tonight and it was loved by everyone. Here’s a simple thing I did that worked well: I cleaned off the seeds from the squash, dried them on a paper towel and sprinkled with salt and cumen, tossed them in the bowl that I had used to toss the squash so some oil was remaining. Then roasted in the oven at the same time as the squash, but only for about 10 minutes.(watch out-they could burn quickly) They were crunchy and nutty and I sprinkled them on top of the squash before serving!
    This is a great simple, but elegant dish that I will make again.

  33. What kind of peppers did you use? I can’t find red chile peppers anywhere. All I can find is jalapenos, and other green, orange, and yelloiw peppers. But I still want that nice reddish color when it come out of the oven. Anyway maybe a name of a pepper???

    1. Oh man, it’s been like four years since I made this but it looks like I too might have ignored the red pepper suggestion and used a green japaleno. However, at farmers markets, I often see red ones right next to them… red ones have just been left on the vine longer.

  34. WOW WOW WOW

    I was looking for a vegi to add to our normal “taco night” and this was IT! Amazing. I will be making this a lot. Very good, even my 6 year old loved it.

  35. Thanks so much for this recipe. I wanted to make a side dish with acorn squash but not the typical cut-in-half and douse with brown sugar and butter kind. So, I made this tonight for my BF and myself. It was great!! I forgot to add the cilantro but it was still great. My BF was mopping up the vinaigrette with bread and he kept oohing and ahhing.

  36. Michelle – I’ve used pappadew peppers with great success. If you live in NYC, you can get them at Fairway out of the big tubs of various pickled/preserved veggies.

  37. This is soooo good! I’ve hated acorn squash since before I was a kid! It’s amazing that I can’t stop eating the stuff now! The dressing is so simple and yet so complex. Thank you!

  38. This is quite possibly the greatest vegetable recipe I have ever eaten. EVER. My husband started picking up the squash and devouring it with his hands, completely ignoring the steak on his plate. Never before have I seen him eat vegetables in place of meat.

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m going back to the store tomorrow to pick up more squash and chile peppers so we can eat it again as soon as possible.

  39. I made this for a dinner party last night and it was a HIT! Everyone commented on how delicious it was and wanted to know what was in it. I love squash, but had never made acorn squash because most of the recipes are super sweet. I was doubtful about eating the rind, but you definitely can. I will be making this again soon. Like tomorrow.

  40. Was looking for squash recipe that doesn’t try to turn the squash into either pumpkin pie or candied sweet potatoes; should have looked her on my favorite food blog sooner. Any chance this can be prepared in advance and served at room temp, or, reheated? Wondering if I could bring it to a potluck.

  41. I’ve never prepared or eaten acorn squash… Is is okay to eat the rind with this dish? If so, great! If not, how do you recommend serving it so as to avoid awkward sccoping and/or peeling at the dinner table? Thanks!

  42. Thanks for sharing another amazing recipe! I used chilli powder the first time because my honey can’t do the hotter stuff and it was delicious. So happy I found this blog recently; may have missed out for a few years but now I don’ t have to wait for installments and can get your book. (Thanks, too, for not making me flip the wedges over.)

  43. Made this for Thanksgiving just to really twist my Mom’s knickers as she’s a total traditionalist holiday freak. It was awesome. The first best part is I screwed up the slicing of the squash and cut it width-wise. This ended up super pretty as the slices all had these fun scalloped edges – not long wedges. The second best part is, in the confusion of the dinner, we completely spaced warming it up so it went on the table room temp. No biggie – It was terrific. Good cold the next day and with leftovers two days later. This is a great recipe and people love it. Thank you!!! P.S. the rind doesn’t even matter after roasting.

  44. I just made this for dinner. It’s delicious! I had extra dressing so I used it to make a kale salad. I think this is my new favorite dressing!

  45. I had two month-old acorn squashes sitting in my pantry when this recipe caught my eye. I’m so glad I found it because it turned out wonderful! My husband and I haven’t eaten that much acorn squash before, and we were both pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it. He is an agreement with you that sweet squashes like this don’t need any additional sugar. Much better to go with spicy and savory.

  46. I made this roasted squash twice in the last weekend and it was amazing! I got lots of compliments when I brought it to our block party. I used a jalapeno w/o seeds and sprinkled a few dried cranberries on top. It is a refreshingly new way to cook up all the yummy fall squash!

  47. I finally got around to trying this after you directing us towards it almost every year: “three years ago: acorn squash with chile-lime vinaigrette … You must make this”. And I’m so glad I finally made it. Absolutely delicious! Perfect combo :)

  48. Wow! What a dish. The chili-lime vinaigrette is crucial here. I actually doubled my vinaigrette since it was so tasty!

    I had a difficult time cutting the raw acorn squash. I was reading some other websites that said to put the squash in the microwave for 2 minutes then try cutting it. I would have tried that, but I don’t own a microwave. I wonder if it alters the taste? Anyway, the recipe is amazing and this dish is definitely a runner-up for my upcoming Thanksgiving menu.
    p.s. – I can’t wait until Nov. 2, 2012 when you come into LA for your book signing at Williams-Sonoma. I am so excited for your new cookbook! Go Deb!

  49. Great recipe, but I have to agree with the above. By the time I finished slicing up 2 raw acorn squashes I wanted to scream. I also got myself a pretty good gash in my thumb from my knife slipping. I might trying the microwave tip next time :)

  50. I’ve made this acorn squash recipe a bajillion (technical term) times and I absolutely love it, but have you tried this squash gratin? Because I recently made it for a squash indifferent group and they cleaned the pan. Oh my word, I think you would love it for it is sweet with slightly spicy, and definitely filling enough to constitute a meal. Heck, I made it with cottage cheese I’d drained so I didn’t have to hunt down farmer cheese. Now I need another batch. Oh, and it freezes well and is better made in advance.

    http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/squash-gratin-with-poblanos-and-cream

  51. Hello! Thank you for sharing your creative recipes….such a gift! Have you baked/cooked with carnival squash? In owning some via a veggie coop I’m needing to put them to use but have not found a recipe yet. I’m wondering if I could use the carnival squash in place of acorn squash? Do you know? Thank you!

  52. I’m thinking of using this vinaigrette with a pumpkin and quinoa salad. I’m sure it will taste delicious, but do you (or anyone else reading this) have any suggestions of what else to put in the salad so it’s not just pumpkin and quinoa. Sunflower seeds? Pepitas? Dried cranberries? Bell peppers?

  53. This was one of the first SK recipes I ever made! I’ve made it many times since and it’s always great! Laura (above) and I must think alike because last night I decided to turn this recipe into a quinoa salad…with great success! I prepared only 1 acorn squash but I made the same amount of vinaigrette, which I used to toss the quinoa. I also added to the salad steamed asparagus (although roasted would have been better!) and fresh red bell peppers. Can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch today!
    Looking forward to meeting you in Montreal next month!

  54. Eventually the novelty of being able to perfectly roast fall veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper runs out. I’m already there this fall and needed some inspiration. I roasted slices of delicata squash with kale and black beans added halfway through the roasting. I topped it with avocado, this vinaigrette, and roasted squash seeds. I made the vinaigrette with fermented hatch chiles that I keep in my fridge. This vinaigrette ROCKS! Thanks!!!!!

  55. I served this on Christmas Eve (my family is from Texas and we do tamales and other mexican-like things on Christmas Eve) and it was a hit. My family is pretty vegetable-adverse (to put it mildly) but the vinaigrette made it tolerable for them.

  56. I saw that someone mentioned freezing these and having good results. Would they refrigerate will for a day? How would you reheat the squash if frozen or refrigerated – in the oven or on the stovetop?

  57. This vinaigrette is amazing! I haven’t tried it on this dish, but on the crispy sweet potato roast for Thanksgiving last year. I’m planning to use it as a chimichurri for some Grilled Chicken this Independence Day!

  58. Loved this dish! We couldn’t find acorn squash here in our little European supermarket, so we found a giant 2.5kg pumpkin-like squash and used that to serve 8 people. I roasted it Thursday night, and then made the vinaigrette and served it on Saturday for lunch. It looked almost as gorgeous as your picture and it was a real showstopper. I was almost sad it was such a hit– no leftovers!