I don’t really consider myself a squash person. I like to look at squash. I like it when our neighbors decorate their stoops with cute little varieties of squash and leaves and the occasional haystack. Fall harvest scenes make me crave warm apple pie, and I’m cool with that. Draw a face on that pumpkin. Stuff some berries in that gourd. Pass me some candy that’s been shaped into the form of a squash but that actually tastes like chocolate. I’ll eat it all day.
The first Thanksgiving that Harrison and I spent together was in 2005. I thought it would be cute to decorate my tiny apartment by scattering assorted, colorful squash all over it. Harrison thought it would be cute to walk up to each one, shoot me a death glare and then smack them to the ground, one by one. Then he’d do this thing where he meows at me, but it’s a very short meow, almost like a bark. It translates to, “Look! I knocked your stupid squash in the floor! Did you really think I wasn’t going to do that? Are you seriously going to try to pick it up and put it back, thinking I won’t do it again and again? Try me.”
We played that game nearly a dozen times that day. I haven’t decorated a thing since.
Where was I?
This past weekend I decided to try being a grown up for once and ate something I wouldn’t normally eat. It came down to a tie between acorn squash and brussels sprouts, but since the kind folks at Williams-Sonoma said I could cover an acorn squash in maple syrup and cranberries, I chose squash. And of course I totally liked it, even though I was a huge baby about trying it and I made a very dramatic face before I took a bite, expecting the worst. I will absolutely make this as a side dish for Thanksgiving this year.
But I’ll have to keep it away from Sebastian, because he became obsessed with trying to cuddle it.
- 3 ripe acorn squash
- sea salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, melted
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice the ends off of each squash.
Slowly and carefully slice each squash into pieces roughly 1/2″ thick. Don’t worry if the rings aren’t even. Don’t worry if you accidentally slice the ring open so you have something that resembles the letter C more than it resembles a ring. It will taste the same.
Use a biscuit cutter (or a knife) to cut the middle seedy part out of each ring.
Discard the seeds. Or roast them.
Place the squash rings in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add 2 tablespoons of the melted vegan butter and toss the rings so that they’re all coated.
Gently push aside curious kittehs.
Place the rings in a large, ovenproof saute pan or skillet. It’s okay if they overlap.
Whisk together 1/4 cup water, orange juice and orange zest. Pour the water mixture over top of the squash rings.
Cook the rings over medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. I found that it’s best to rotate them every 5 minutes or so, so that each ring gets to spend some time close to the bottom of the pan.
Whisk together the remaining water, vegan butter and the maple syrup.
Remove the squash from the heat and pour the syrup mixture over the squash rings. Sprinkle the dried cranberries and thyme over the rings.