If you want a good recipe for squash, common sense dictates that you should turn to the cook who dislikes this autumn vegetable. Alright, sometimes even common sense needs an explanation.
This may sound weird, but as a someone who usually shuns all types of squash, I find that I can really do these vegetables justice. I know from experience -- all those times I'm stuck with a buttercup or a hubbard -- how one can make these super-sweet gourds really sing. So if a squash non-believer like me can build a meal around it, surely all you squash-lovers out there could try my recipe.
Before I get to this dead-easy dish, a word on what inspires me to prepare squash since I don't exactly love the stuff. Basically, two things: the seasonality of squash is quite enjoyable, and so is making a wine pairing for it. In fact, the bottle pictured above was inspirational enough to get me to fix my acorn squash two ways. Coated and roasted (see recipe below) as well as in a shallot and herb omelette.
The wine was Clos Bagatelle Veillée d'Automne Saint-Chinian 2002. Something about its spicy/earthy character -- perhaps the Mourvèdre, perhaps the Syrah -- really accentuates the spice mixture I make for the squash.
In general, Saint-Chinian reds are majority Syrah blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre -- a common formula for grape blends throughout the Midi region of France. Yet Saint-Chinian wine always seems to be stamped with its own very unique profile, or at least I find it to be. Just last night I had the Clos Bagatelle Cuvée Tradition 2005 which conveyed what the réserve bottle did but with brighter tones, full of cassis and red fruit. For more on the various products from Clos Bagatelle, a forerunner of the Saint-Chinian A.O.C., including their Donnadieu brand, consult this online order form.
SAQ stocks so many Saint-Chinian wines, I'm sure that it must be the biggest carrier outside of France. So many bottles are bargains though Bagatelle may be the most trusted name. Give them a try, with or without the following food pairing. (Sometimes I like my little spice mixture so much with Saint-Chinians, I can't wait to bake -- this stuff goes great on slapped on rice crackers or crusty French bread... just open a bottle and see.)
Coated and Roasted Squash
1 acorn squash, cleaned and cut into eighths (any in-season squash will work, except maybe spaghetti squash; though butternut is probably the best type, acorn is what I had on hand)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash of garlic powder
a few chili flakes
freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil onto a cookie sheet. Lay out the squash sections.
In a small bowl combine the ingredients of the spice mixture. Coat the sections, rubbing the mixture into the concave surface and sides. Bake until desired tenderness. About 25 minutes.