I know what you're thinking: "Do I eat this, or use it for a table decoration during the holidays?"
You eat it. Roasted, with a little butter, salt and pepper. That's all you need.
I first discovered the simplicity of this preparation while working for Community Food Bank. We had received a large shipment of produce--too much for the agencies that we served to take--so we set up a distribution at a local church. We lined the parking lot with tables, set up produce boxes, and handed everyone that came a paper bag to "shop" with. I stood by the acorn squash, and quickly noticed it wasn't a popular choice.
"There's plenty of squash--take all you want" I urged.
"Oh, no thanks. I wouldn't know what to do with it." I lost count of how many times I heard that.
Honestly, I wasn't sure myself, so I took a guess: cut it half, sprinkle salt and pepper over it, and throw it in the microwave until tender. "Top it with a little butter, and the kids will love it!" The reaction was positive, and we eventually ran out of squash (and everything else).
Feeling a little guilty, I picked up a couple squash that weekend to test the recipe. Turns out, it really is that simple. I've since adapted it for the oven, simply because I love the flavor of roasted veggies, but if you're putting together a quick weeknight dinner, the microwave is your best friend.
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut each squash in half, from point to stem, and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil; flip so that the inside is facing up, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Small squash can cook in as little as 20 minutes; larger squash may need as long as 45. Test the squash with a fork--when the meat pulls away from the outer shell with ease, it's done. It will have a texture similar to that of a sweet potato.
Serve the squash in halves, each topped with a little butter, or scoop the squash into a bowl for serving.