When I was a kid my mom made roasted acorn squash. She would fill the cavity with butter and brown sugar. Then she would roast the squash. Once they were done, all the butter would’ve melted into the squash making them sweet and buttery. Then, she would fill the cavity with beanies and weinies (sliced hot dogs in baked beans); we called ‘em Squash Bean Boats. It was a totally kid-friendly meal!
I loved it! In fact, I even asked for it for my birthday dinner once. I remember because it caused quite a ruckus. My grandparents had come to California to celebrate my birthday. In our house, the birthday person always got to choose whatever they wanted for their birthday dinner. I always chose spaghetti. (What kid doesn’t love spaghetti!) Well, that year I wanted Squash Bean Boats. And, my Grandma actually had quite the fit. She couldn’t understand why I would want Squash Bean Boats over spaghetti. Well, even though she had a fit, we had my choice of Squash Bean Boats (it was my birthday after all!).
I was given these beautiful Fuyu Persimmons (thanks, Sarah!). About this time of year you can look around and see Persimmon trees in some of the neighbors’ yards. Beautiful trees filled with little orange globes; their branches bending under the weight of all these fruits. Fuyu Persimmons are short and firm, and look like little tomatoes. They’re crisp and sweet and the skin can be eaten or peeled off. They’re great in fruit salads or baked in pastries. These persimmons are generally preferred for eating raw. The other common type of persimmon is a Hachiya; they’re longer and more peach-shaped, and can also be eaten raw, but are not as sweet.
You’ll want to make sure the persimmons are ripe, otherwise, they may be bitter. In a ripe persimmon, the skin will be transparent and smooth and have a pretty orange color. If the persimmon isn’t ripe yet, let it ripen on the counter until it reaches a bright color overall.
I thought that roasting the persimmons would be a really tasty way to try them, increasing their sweetness and caramelizing them a bit. And I love roasted black grapes; they almost have a meaty texture once they’re roasted.
This dish would make a lovely side dish for the Thanksgiving table. It’s also great for a nice Sunday night dinner to serve with some whole grains like barley or wheat berries, and a roasted chicken or pot roast. I like serving half an acorn squash per person, but you could also cut the squash in quarters and serve 4 with this recipe.
- 1 large acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon good-quality Bourbon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided use
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon water
- 4 ripe fuyu persimmons
- 1 cup black grapes
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, plus additional for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Place the acorn squash directly in the oven, whole. Bake the squash for 20 minutes or until soft enough to cut in half with little effort.
- While the squash roasts, Place the maple syrup, bourbon, cardamom, 1 tablespoon oil, pinch salt, and water in a small bowl. Peel the persimmons, cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them into sixths. Arrange the slices in a baking dish, drizzle them with the maple syrup mixture, and gently stir to coat. Set aside.
- Carefully remove the squash from the oven, and cut the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and fibers, be sure to save the seeds for roasting (they make a yummy snack). Place the halves of the squash in a baking dish or large cast iron skillet. Brush cut sides of squash with 1 teaspoon oil, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to bake for 20 more minutes. Place the persimmons in oven to roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- In a second small bowl, mix the grapes, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon oil. Set aside. Once the squash has roasted for the additional 20 minutes, Place grapes around squash in the cast iron skillet, and roast squash and grapes for 20 minutes, stirring grapes once, until squash is tender and grapes are softened and caramelized. (The squash will roast for a total of 60 minutes; the persimmons will roast for a total of 40 minutes, and the grapes will roast for a total of 20 minutes.)
- Gently mix roasted grapes into roasted persimmons, and fill the squash with persimmons and grapes. Garnish with rosemary leaves. Enjoy!