Prep time: 10 minutes
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).
2. Prep the squash: If you have a microwave, microwave the squash for a minute each, to make it easier to cut. Stabilize the squash on a cutting board as best you can, stem end down if the stem is short enough, otherwise on the side. Using a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from tip to stem. If on its side, the squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.
Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth. Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.
3. Add butter, salt, brown sugar, walnuts cranberries, and maple syrup: Rub a half tablespoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter.
Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.
4. Bake: Bake at 400°F (205°C) for about an hour to an hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through.
It's hard to overcook squash, it just gets better with more caramelization. But don't undercook it.
5. Remove from oven, spoon brown sugar butter sauce over squash: When done, remove the squash halves from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving.
Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.
Recipe by Joanne Keaveney. Dietitian and former Culinary Chef. Volunteer at Dedham Farmers Market