Have you ever come across a vegetable, fruit or other foods that were a bit intimidating to cook? I certainly have, and still do at times! Professional chefs on cooking shows make it look so easy, but when I get home with a basket full of ingredients, and one of them is something I never worked with before, I know I may need a little help to complete the task. That help may come from watching YouTube videos on how to prep the item, or just a little glass of wine, as I go through the steps of the challenging recipe. In the end, the results are worth the work and make me feel quite accomplished by adding another skill to my cooking repertoire.
Most of you may be quite familiar with winter squashes, but growing up in South America these were not common, and therefore, they still surprise me. For a while, whenever a recipe called for winter squash I would work around it, or substitute potatoes. Thankfully my store also often sold already peeled and cut up varieties that I could use. But recently I was determined to tackle the squash after seeing a beautiful picture of an acorn squash on the cover of a good food magazine. When cooked whole, with skin, they can be a beautiful centerpiece to your dinner table adding color and aroma as well.
The slow cooker is a great option for cooking squash, pumpkin and potatoes. They reach a high temperature slowly and maintain the necessary heat to soften the hard textures of most winter squashes. “Keeping it simple” is my main approach when it comes to cooking; that’s why you’ll see this recipe only calls for a few ingredients. That’s really all it takes to bring the earthy flavor of the acorn squash perfectly to your plate.
I should say that safety is first when working with squash. Use a sharp knife, and make sure the blade is always pointed away from your body. Work slowly and on a fixed cutting board. Choose a small to medium squash since those are a bit easier to handle. After washing it well I cut it up into quarters. It wasn’t as difficult as I imagined, but peeling it was out of the question for me. Besides, the presentation of the acorn squash, given the beauty of its the skin, is what makes it look so wonderful on the plate. Clean out the insides of the squash well and wash it again. My kids wanted to plant the seeds to see if we could get more acorn squash, and it has been about 3 weeks, and now we have a few little plants growing! It’s a warm winter in Florida (with temperatures above normal), so I am not sure if we’ll get a good turn out, but I was happy to let them play in the dirt and try to grow some food.
But back to cooking…. I added one tablespoon of cashew butter to each quarter and topped it with the turmeric and salt. I arranged the slices at the bottom of the slow cooker, after adding just a little over ½ cup of water to the bottom of the cooker. This will help create steam and prevent the acorn squash from sticking to the bottom. The squash was tender and ready in about 3 hours, and the house smelled amazing! We served it with a grilled salmon fillet and a fresh arugula salad. We ended up with beautiful colors and delicious flavor, and another recipe we are now adding to our meal planners. Next, we will be trying butternut squash!
Here are acorn squash’s nutrient facts: It contains beta-carotene, and is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. A great addition to your plate!
Slow Cooker Cashew Acorn Squash
1 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons of Once Again Nut Butter Cashew Butter
4 teaspoons of turmeric
4 dashes of salt
½ cup water
Wash acorn squash well, cutting off the tips and paring it into quarters. Clean the inside and wash again. Add a tablespoon of cashew butter to each quarter and spread it evenly. Sprinkle each quarter with a teaspoon of turmeric and a dash of salt. Add the ½ cup of water to the slow cooker, and turn it on to high. Place the acorn squash in the slow cooker with the skin facing down. Arrange the quarters at the bottom of the cooker and let them cook for 3 to 4 hours. Check for tenderness to see if ready. Enjoy as a main or side dish!