Apple Cider-Glazed Squash

Reducing apple cider to a sweet syrup produces a glaze that tastes like the essence of autumn. This simple glazing method is an excellent way to prepare a wide range of squash varieties, from everyday acorn to large, meaty banana. As a variation, substitute orange juice for apple cider and 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin for cinnamon.

1 (2 1/2- to 3-lb.) acorn, buttercup, carnival, sweet dumpling, calabaza, turban, banana or hubbard squash
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 400°F. If using smaller squash (acorn, buttercup, carnival or sweet dumpling), cut into quarters. If using larger squash, cut into 4x5-inch wedges. Scoop out seeds. With paring knife, score flesh 1/4 inch deep in crisscross pattern.

2. Place squash, skin-side down, in 13x9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Pour water into baking dish. Cover with foil; bake 45 minutes or until tender.

3. Meanwhile, bring cider to a boil in small skillet over medium heat. Cook 15 to 25 minutes or until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, adjusting heat as necessary. (Monitor carefully, especially towards the end, to prevent scorching.) Remove from heat. Stir in butter, cinnamon and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

4. Blot any liquid in cavities of squash with paper towel. Brush squash with about half of the reduced cider mixture. Bake, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes or until glaze is set. Brush with remaining reduced cider mixture. Slice in half lengthwise. Serve in shells. Or, if desired, scoop out flesh; place in medium bowl. Mash with potato masher.

8 servings

PER SERVING: 105 calories, 3 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 1 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 10 mg cholesterol, 245 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber

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