You know fall is just around the corner when you start breaking out the gourds for national food holidays! I really love squashes of all kinds: the summer ones, like zucchini, with their thin skins and sweet, stir-fry-ready flesh; and the winter ones, like butternut, that are perfect when baked to make a warm, hearty starch for the winter months. Surprisingly, acorn squash–the squash we’re celebrating in this national food holiday–isn’t a winter squash at all! Although its hard, dark-green exterior and sweet flesh are more in line with winter squashes, it’s biologically closer to the summer squashes. So, I guess we can call acorn squash the real transitional squash of the bunch!

Unlike their summer squash counterparts, however, acorn squash has a sweet, mellow flesh that’s great as a baked mash. My favorite way to prepare an acorn squash is to cut the squash in half lengthwise, bake it in a shallow pan with a little bit of water (so it doesn’t dry out) for an hour, and then scoop out all the flesh for a super-nutritious alternative to mashed potatoes! Acorn squash–named for its resemblance to acorns–is a good source of fiber and potassium, and can be used as both a sweet or savory component to a dish. It’s great with a drizzle of maple syrup and some cinnamon, or kick up the spice with cayenne powder and cloves! Or, if you’re like me, you can give into temptation and eat it right out of the gourd 😉

The prettiest presentation of an acorn squash, or any winter squash, is when you stuff it! My friend Alison got me into stuffing and baking winter squashes, namely pumpkins, and using them as a natural vessel for savory or sweet stuffings. Even better, when you scoop out all the goodies inside of a hollowed-out acorn squash, you scrape the sides of the gourd to pick up all that lovely squash flesh with your spoon! It’s easy enough to make yourself, but for those New Yorkers who only use their oven as extra storage space, the Brazilian restaurant Circus has you covered. They serve a traditional Camarão na Moranga, an acorn squash stuffed with shrimp, green peas, roasted corn, and hearts of palm. Everything turns into a delicious, fragrant stew inside the squash when it’s baked, and the presentation straight in the squash couldn’t be better. While you’re there, try some of their other traditional Brazilian plates, like the fejioada–a black bean stew with strips of beef and pork–or their caipirinha cocktail, made with Cachaça liquor and muddled lime. I’m so in love with this dish that I may even try to recreate it myself at home!

Circus Restaurant
132 E 61st St (between Lexington Ave & Park Ave)

“Your meal begins with a Caipirinha – a traditional Brazilian cocktail made with cachaça – and a chef’s selection first course. Follow those with a traditional bacalhau salad or the shepherd’s pie layered with braised beef, yuca purée, and topped with melted cheese. For your main course, consider the picanha – Brazilian sirloin served with seasonal ingredients – or the baked acorn squash with shrimp, corn, hearts of palm, and peas – a classic Circus favorite. It may seem a shame to dismantle the delicately plated Brazilian dishes when they’re first served, but the food is too delectable to resist for long.”–Event 1001

Some reviews from

“For entree the three of us shared pastel and escondidinho. Escondidinho is beef topped with yuka puree and cheese. It was creamy and had amazing smokiness. I was blown away with the first bite – one of the best appetizers I had in a long time. For entree we had feijoada, picadinho and camaro na moranga. I never thought feijoada could be so refined with delicious sausages. Camaro na moranga was also exceptional with its full but extremely well balanced flavor.”–Akira O.

“My favorite entree at Circus is the Camarao Na Moranga (baked acorn squash filled with shrimp, corn, hearts of palm and peas). All the ingredients really come together to make this tasty Brazilian dish. Also, its served in the acorn squash, making presentation fun.”–Gretchen W.


Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!