Winter squashes get their name from their long-lasting storage talents, but the bulk of the crop is actually harvested in late summer. You can still find some acorn squash and lots of butternut squash in stock at local farmers markets. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is also one of the simplest. Just roast, scoop, and puree it in your food processor for an elegant and versatile side dish. I prefer to keep it savory with just a touch of heat from cayenne pepper, but you can also sweeten it with a tablespoon or 2 of brown sugar and replace the cayenne with a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. —Deborah Geering
2 acorn squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and membrane, and discard. Place cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake until flesh is easily pierced with a fork, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. With a spoon, scoop the flesh away from the skin and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and puree until smooth. Add cayenne pepper and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm.
Makes 4 servings