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Glazed Acorn Squash with Goat Cheese and Herbed Walnut Candy

This never would have gotten made if I had found one more dollar bill wadded up in my jeans pocket last week.  But I didn’t: I had four dollars left after hitting up the okra and apple stands at the farmers’ market.  The butternut squash were three dollars each and the acorn squash (here in Alabama, pronounced “ac’rn”) were two apiece.  So I grudgingly came home with these guys:

Meh.  Until a few days ago, I would have called acorn the lesser squash.  In my laziness, I was tempted to shove it in the oven and then put it in the food processor with some butter and cream.  When I noticed the food processor parts were in the dishwasher, I yawned dramatically and began poking around on the internet for a recipe that didn’t require pureeing.

I liked the looks of Martha Stewart’s glazed squash.  We had walnuts in the fridge, so I thought I’d caramelize them and work them in.  The candied walnuts in this Bon Appetit recipe are caramelized with herbs and wine.  Respect.  There is nothing better than having to open a bottle of red wine in the early evening for a recipe that will only deprive you of three tablespoons.

I wound up with an adaptation of both recipes and added dollops of a creamy local goat cheese.

I am now an acorn squash convert.  For starters, acorn squash is way easier to cut than butternut squash.  And as someone who spent last weekend at urgent care after tripping over her own self, I appreciate that.

Second, except for my mom’s marinara sauce, I have never, ever cooked anything that has made my house smell more amazing than when these walnuts went into the oven.  It smelled the way I imagine this passage from Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God: “He could be a bee to a blossom – a pear tree blossom in the spring.  He seemed to be crushing scent out of the world with his footsteps.  Crushing aromatic herbs with every step he took.  Spices hung about him.  He was a glance from God.” 

Seriously, these walnuts might make you cry.

I tasted the squash with gorgonzola as well as goat cheese, but the squash is mild and the gorgonzola probably overpowers it.  It could be good with lardons or crumbled bacon, too, if you’re into that.

A few more pictures before the recipe:

Once Thunder realized she was not going to get any of the raw walnuts, she got bored and left the kitchen to take a nap.  But when I started candying them, she woke up and ran into the kitchen, audibly sniffing.  And that is saying something, because she is on some hard-core prescription sedatives this week.

Glazed Acorn Squash with Goat Cheese and Herbed Walnut Candy

Ingredients for the squash:

2 acorn squash

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

salt & pepper

Ingredients for the toppings:

1 c. walnuts

3 tbsp. sugar

3 tbsp. red wine

1 tbsp. brandy (optional.  I used cherry brandy, but you could also use Armagnac or some other fruit or nut liqueur.)

1 tsp. sage (preferably fresh)

1 tsp. rosemary (preferably fresh)

1 tsp. thyme (preferably fresh)

1/4 to 1/3 c. goat cheese, as desired

Directions  (makes a side dish for 4, with seconds)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Leaving the skin on, halve the squashes and scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into crescents about an inch thick.

Lay the squash crescents on their sides (not balanced up on the rind) on a baking sheet. (You’ll probably need two sheets.)  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the 1/2 c. brown sugar.

Roast the squash for approximately 20 minutes, or until almost translucent, pausing once the brown sugar has melted (about half-way through) to flip the crescents so that both sides are evenly covered in the light syrup.  To check that it’s done, check to see that you can cut a piece of squash off with a fork, and that it is not mealy.  If it is, return to the oven.

While squash is roasting, prepare the walnuts.  Combine the 3 tbsp. sugar and the 3 tbsp. red wine in a sauce pan big enough to hold the walnuts.  (Throw the brandy in too, if you are adding it.)  Heat over medium heat for a few minutes until sugar disappears.  Chop the herbs (1 tsp. each of sage, rosemary and thyme) together and add, with the walnuts, to the wine syrup.

Remove the nuts from heat and spread onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle the remaining syrup onto the nuts.  Roast in the same oven as the squash, at 400 degrees, for about 6 minutes.  Be extremely careful not to burn the nuts.  They can turn from brown to black in no time at all, and even that smells so good that you may not notice until it’s too late.  If they do burn, it’s not necessarily a loss.  Try one once they’ve cooled–they’re probably still delicious.

Remove the nuts from the oven and immediately transfer off the cookie sheet to cool, disentangling any nut clumps.  The coating on the nuts will harden a bit as they cool.

To serve, place the acorn squash on a large dish and add dollops of goat cheese and sprinkle with the walnuts.  Add a sprig of one of the herbs as garnish, if desired.  The outside skin will be tender and may be eaten along with the flesh of the squash.


We ate the squash with kale that we sauteed in olive oil and garlic and spritzed with lemon wedges.  It was a busy weeknight, so as our main course, we actually had pigs-in-blankets with local bologna as the pigs.  When these were in the oven, Thunder went bonkers and careened around the house like a rabbit on her two back legs, with the bathmat in her mouth.  Presumably, this was because the pigs-in-blankets smelled amazing.  Or it might have been because she got spayed this week and she is on hallucinogens that make her think the bathmat is an intruder.

Either way, we were very proud.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Loving the blog! (I have one too, but haven’t been so bold as to post on FB yet… It’s only been a few years… Eventually…) And wow. I’ve never tried ac’rn squash unless it’s been cut in half, and nuked with some butter & brown sugar. Might be time to venture out of my mother’s kitchen a bit… 🙂

    September 23, 2011
  2. Adriana #

    As I reached for the butternut squash at my farmers market today, I felt a pang of guilt for never giving the acorn squash a try. I swear they stared at me s they sat all pretty right next to the butternut squash. I thought of this recipe I had seen a while back, and I decided to try it out. I’m so happy that I did because it was DELISH. Absolutely amazing. Thanks for the recipe! I also just read your story about the train ride from hell, and died laughing… particularly because I would also totally milk my 15 minutes of fame by downing beer in the Amtrak dining cart. Alabama sounds great! Let me know when you’re back in DC/NY!

    November 27, 2011
    • Adriana, thanks for being in touch! I am so glad you made it and that it didn’t disappoint. I also wish I had been there to have some and dish over a glass of wine, of course.

      I kind of miss those train rides now. Weird, right? I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you start your own blog of family recipes soon, bella.


      November 28, 2011
  3. Andrea #

    Just found your blog through a Bloggess link. Enjoying it enormously! Thank you!

    December 17, 2011
    • Andrea, I’m so glad you visited. It’s been so fun for me to work on. Thank you for the kind works! Keep in touch and take care!

      December 17, 2011
  4. Muy lindo tu blog. Un saludo desde Argentina

    September 21, 2014

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