What are the best side dishes for acorn squash? Acorn squash has a mild, buttery flavor and a soft, tender texture. Choose cheesy, indulgent sides like cauliflower casserole, creamy corn salad, or creamed spinach with nutmeg for spice. Add fresh vegetables like Brussels sprouts with sweet cranberries. Savory flavors in rice and nutty salads also complement squash.
Whether you’re serving stuffed acorn squash as a festive vegetarian main meal, squash soup, or want other side dishes to accompany roast acorn squash, you have a wide variety to choose from.
Let’s look at the ideal side dishes for acorn squash:
Our Favorite Acorn Squash Sides
Acorn squash’s beautiful yellow-orange flesh will look stunning with a platter of colorful veggie-filled savory rice on the side. This rice includes ham, which adds sweetness to the dish. Leave out the ham if you’re not a meat-eater.
Cook 1½ cups of rice until al dente. Meanwhile, sauté a finely chopped onion, one diced green pepper, one diced sweet red pepper, and a cup of mushrooms in plenty of butter. Chop cooked ham and add the ham and rice to the pan. Heat through and garnish with parsley.
The spiciness of curry complements the gentle flavor of acorn squash, adding sweetness and interest. This lentil dish is an excellent accompaniment for a vegan or vegetarian dinner.
Soak one cup of brown lentils overnight or steep in boiling water for an hour. Drain. Simmer the lentils in salted water for an hour until tender. Don’t overcook them, as brown lentils will turn mushy.
Heat ¼ cup cooking oil in a saucepan, add a diced onion, and sauté. Add crushed garlic, two teaspoons of curry powder, one teaspoon of turmeric, and one teaspoon of ground cumin, and cook for two minutes. Add ¼ cup vinegar and a teaspoon of brown sugar.
Remove from the heat and pour the sauce over the drained lentils. Garnish with plenty of fresh coriander. You can serve these lentils hot or chilled.
Creamy, cheesy, bacony, and indulgent, this side goes well with the plainness of acorn squash.
Preheat the oven to a moderate 350⁰F (180⁰C) and line a baking sheet.
Toss cauliflower florets from two heads of cauliflower with two tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Roast the cauliflower until tender and beginning to brown.
Transfer the cauliflower to a buttered casserole dish, and mix in three rashers of bacon, fried until crispy and crumbled. Add ½ cup cream cheese, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, ⅓ cup grated Gruyère cheese, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Mix to combine, and then sprinkle the top with more cheese.
Bake for five to seven minutes, turn the oven to broil, and allow the cheese to brown. Take care as this only takes a minute. Serve with snipped chives and more bacon bits.
The richness of creamed spinach contrasts with the delicate sweetness of acorn squash. For a beautiful presentation, use halved acorn squash as a “bowl” for the spinach.
Cook two pounds of spinach in a saucepan with very little water. Drain and squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach. Puree the spinach in a food processor.
Melt three generous tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and add the spinach, stirring until all moisture evaporates. Stir in ¼ cup heavy cream and heat through. Season with salt, pepper, and plenty of grated nutmeg.
If you’re roasting your acorn squash, it’s a great idea to use the oven to roast some veggies to serve on the side.
Preheat your oven to 350⁰F (180⁰C) and prepare a baking dish.
Choose fall and winter favorites like parsnips, carrots, potatoes, and onions to match the squash’s earthiness. Cube the vegetables and coat lightly with olive oil and salt. Roast until the vegetables are tender and crispy around the edges.
Walnut And Cheese Salad
This simple salad offers the crunch and robust flavors of bitter endives, strong cheese, and sweet nuts to contrast with the buttery, slightly nutty acorn squash.
Combine lettuce and curly endive leaves. Add ⅛ cup chopped walnuts and half a cup of diced mature Gruyère cheese. Make a vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar, French mustard, and olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
Festive Brussels Sprouts Salad
Brussels sprouts are usually served cooked, but this salad uses the crunchy miniature cabbages as a fresh salad ingredient, paired with apple, cranberries, and honey. These sweet flavors pair beautifully with acorn squash, reminding you of fall and Thanksgiving.
Trim and thinly slice two cups of Brussels sprouts and one red apple. Grate half a head of cauliflower. Combine these ingredients with ¼ cup of dried cranberries.
Dress your salad with ¼ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup olive oil, three tablespoons of grainy mustard, two tablespoons of honey, and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix well. Add a crushed garlic clove if desired.
Creamy Corn Salad
Corn is a traditional accompaniment to acorn squash, as both are ancient American crops. This vegan salad adds lightness and color to a dinner where acorn squash is the star of the show.
Combine five tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise, two tablespoons of vegan sour cream, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over one drained can of corn (or freshly cooked corn) and a couple of finely chopped scallions. Refrigerate before serving.
Pear And Prune Compote
Although not as sweet as butternut, acorn squash is delightful with fruity, spicy flavors, especially cinnamon. This compote makes a gorgeous side dish if you’re serving soup and bread or a pork dish.
In a saucepan, place 1½ pounds of peeled small pears, ½ pound of prunes, and seven ounces of walnuts. Add 12 ounces of dry red wine, 10 ounces of sugar, a cinnamon stick, and two bay leaves.
Cook very gently for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, cover, and let the flavors develop for a day or so. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves before serving.
Best Wine Pairings For Acorn Squash
Which wine you pair with acorn squash depends on how the squash is cooked.
If you’ve made a creamy, rich dish, enjoy a Chianti with enough acid to cut through the cream but with some earthiness to match the squash. Chardonnay also works well with buttery, creamy dishes, as long as you steer clear of heavily oaked varieties.
Another white wine that pairs with acorn squash is Chenin Blanc, with its fresh nuttiness that goes well with roast acorn squash. Italian Falanghina is also a delicious choice – it has floral and citrus notes that match well with sweet, spicy squash dishes.
A fruit-forward Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for fans of the reds, with its earthy, herbal tones, especially when paired with sweet acorn squash dishes with nutmeg and cinnamon.
Best Sauces For Acorn Squash
Acorn squash lends itself to fresh, zesty flavors like lemon, sweetness like maple syrup, and more rustic, nutty flavors like tahini.
Butter-based sauces add richness to acorn squash and vary the flavoring. To make butter sauce, melt four tablespoons of butter in a small frying pan over medium heat.
Cook slowly and evenly, stirring continually to avoid the butter burning. Once the butter goes light brown and nutty, mix in one of the following:
- a teaspoon of lemon juice and seasonings
- a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and two tablespoons of maple syrup.
A creamy tahini sauce complements the earthiness of acorn squash. Combine two cloves of garlic and half a cup of tahini in a food processor.
Add ¼- ½ cup of water and ½ cup of lemon juice, alternating a little at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Add salt to taste.