Say hello to your new favorite veggie side dish! Oven roasted acorn squash wedges seasoned with cumin and topped with flavorful pomegranate and pistachios. This simple, vegan side dish works for an easy weeknight dinner, but is also impressive enough to serve for Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. The best of both worlds!
Sweet and earthy winter squash pairs so well with tart pomegranate and nutty pistachios. It's a winning combination that you'll want to cook over and over again during the fall and winter months.
You can make this roasted acorn squash with five simple ingredients and about 10 minutes of active prep work, which makes this recipe ideal for weeknight dinners. (Pair it with Herb Baked Tempeh or One-Pot Butter Beans and Greens.)
Beyond everyday meals, this simple yet festive side dish is holiday-worthy, too. With tons of flavor and rich, vibrant color, it's a great option for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Trust me, your guests will be obsessed with this mix of tender, roasted veggies, crunchy pistachios, and bursts of fruity pomegranate.
If you're looking for more vegetarian side dish recipes to round out your holiday menu, I have lots of options! Try Make-Ahead Cranberry Orange Kale Salad, Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese, or Warm Spelt Berry Salad with Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette.
One of the best things about this recipe is that the ingredient list is short and sweet. Here's what you'll need.
- Acorn squash - Look for a squash that is heavy for its size. It should have smooth skin and no soft spots.
- Grapeseed oil (or oil of choice) - I like grapeseed oil because it has a neutral flavor and stands up to the high heat of roasting. You can use any cooking oil you'd like.
- Ground cumin - Ground cumin is the most convenient, but you can also buy cumin seeds and grind them yourself in a spice grinder.
- Pomegranate - Buy whole pomegranate and remove the arils (seeds) yourself, or you can just purchase a container of the de-seeded arils if you want to keep things really quick and easy. Learn how to easily remove pomegranate seeds in this post by She Loves Biscotti.
- Pistachios - Look for roasted pistachios without the shells. You can use salted or unsalted pistachios for this recipe, but I like salted best.
See the recipe card at the end of the post for the exact quantities and preparation for each ingredient.
How to Cut Acorn Squash into Wedges
Before you start this recipe, you'll need to chop the acorn squash into wedges.
First, slice the squash in half, cut off the stem, and remove the seeds. (You can roast the seeds if you want! Check out this Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds recipe from Valerie's Kitchen.)
Once the seeds are removed, cut the squash into wedges.
I cut a medium-sized squash along the ribs so the wedges are about 1 ¼-inch thick at the widest point.
Note that if you cut the squash into larger slices, you may need to roast it longer. Conversely, if the squash slices are smaller, they'll cook a little bit faster. Keep an eye on the squash toward the end of the cooking process and adjust the time as needed.
You can also choose whether you'd like to keep the squash skin on or slice it off. (I left mine on.) Acorn squash skin is edible when roasted, but it can be a little bit tougher than other winter squash varieties, such as delicata. I don't mind the texture, but if it bothers you, feel free to peel before roasting.
Hint: You can cut the squash vertically along the ribs for wedges (like I did in the photos in this post), or cut horizontally against the ribs if you want to give the squash slices a scalloped look.
Here's a basic summary of how to bake acorn squash in the oven. You can find more detailed instructions and cooking tips in the recipe card at the end of the post.
Mix the acorn squash wedges with oil, ground cumin, salt, and pepper.
Spread the squash wedges on a baking sheet. They should be spread in a single layer with some space in between each piece.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the squash pieces over and bake for 10 additional minutes. (30 minutes total.)
Transfer the roasted squash to a serving dish and top with pomegranate and chopped pistachios.
This recipe is already naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and contains no added sugar. Here are a couple of ways you can change up the ingredients to fit additional dietary needs.
- Nut-free - Substitute pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for the pistachios. You can also just omit the pistachios from the recipe.
- Oil-free - Use vegetable broth instead of grapeseed oil.
- Sodium-free - Omit the salt and optionally, add your favorite salt-free seasoning. Use unsalted pistachios.
Want to change up the flavor profile of this dish? Here are a few ideas.
- Spicy - add cayenne pepper to the squash when you are mixing it with the oil and cumin. About ¼ of cayenne pepper should do the trick, but feel free to use as much as you'd like.
- Cranberry - use dried cranberries instead of pomegranate for another flavor option.
- Za'atar - Swap in za'atar seasoning for the cumin to give this recipe a Mediterranean-inspired feel.
You'll need a knife and cutting board to cut the squash and a mixing bowl to toss together the ingredients.
For cooking, you'll need a rimmed baking sheet. I like to line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to prevent the squash from sticking. This also makes cleanup nice and easy.
Finally, you'll, of course, need your oven to do the roasting!
This recipe is best fresh out of the oven, but you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
The best way to freeze cooked squash is to puree it first. If you have leftovers that you can't use within five days, I suggest taking this route. To puree roasted acorn squash, first remove the skins (if needed) and then process in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the puree to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to six months.
As with any oven-based recipes, consider the cooking time to be a general guide. You should always pay attention to other signs of doneness because oven temperatures can vary. Cook until the squash is tender (you should be able to easily pierce it with a fork) and starting to turn golden brown.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Acorn squash skin softens with roasting and is okay to eat. The skin tends to be a little bit tougher than some squash varieties (such as delicata) but is still edible.
An uncut, uncooked acorn squash will stay fresh for up to two months.
The inside of an overripe squash gets dry and stringy. If there are no other signs of decay, the squash is still safe to eat. A stringy squash probably won't be as flavorful as a fresh, ripe squash.
- Knife and cutting board
- mixing bowl
- Baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- 1 medium acorn squash, sliced into wedges about 1 ¼-inch thick at the widest point (see note)
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or cooking oil of choice
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- ½ cup pomegranate arils (pomegranate seeds)
- ¼ cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped (no shell, see note)
- Preheat oven to 400º F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Mix acorn squash wedges, oil, cumin, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
- Spread squash in a single layer on the baking sheet and transfer to the center rack of the oven. Bake 20 minutes, flip the squash pieces over, and bake for 10 additional minutes (30 minutes total), or until the squash is tender and golden brown.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the cooked squash to a serving dish. Top with pomegranate and pistachios.