Have You Tried Delicata Squash?

Piled in front of the acorn and butternut squash, the distinctive dark-green longitudinal stripes of this winter squash’s creamy yellow body is what initially attracted me at the farmer’s market. Cooking that first beautiful delicata several years ago, I’ve been hooked ever since! I’m not sure if I had my eyes closed to them before, but they are in most US grocery produce departments all fall, winter and, if they last, into the spring. Why not pick one up next time and try one of the recipes below?

 

Many of you may moan here thinking if the delicata is akin to the butternut squash, then you won’t bother. That awkward peeling of that behemoth is not for you! Let’s then refer to this heirloom squash as the delicate cousin of the butternut. After halving and scooping the seeds, the delicata has a similar taste to a butternut, is as easy to prepare as an acorn squash, but better than either of those because the skin is also sweetly edible!

With the change of season, fall and winter become a time for warm, savory comfort foods. Winter squash hits the mark in our house as a healthy low-carb, high fiber side dish! The orange-fleshed delicata squash is a great source of beta-carotene, dietary fiber and potassium, as well as B Vitamins, Vitamin C and E, iron, magnesium and manganese.

 

Delicata squash can be baked, sautéed, steamed, or cubed and added to soups and stews. Personally, I like it best roasted. The skin becomes extra tender and it has a moist and mild creamy flavor similar to a sweet potato.

Recipe: Baked Delicata Squash Halves

Summary: Delicata come in all sizes. I’ve seen them as small as 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter to 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. Choose firm squashes. Choose a size so that a half squash will be an appropriately sized side dish to accompany each person’s meal. (Variations follow.)

Ingredients

  • Delicata Squash
  • Butter
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Garlic Powder (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Trim both ends of the squash. Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of each half leaving the flesh.
  3. On a parchment-lined baking pan or in a glass baking dish, set the squash halves flesh side up. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and add a 1/2 to 1 tbsp of butter inside each half. (I am a butter lover so I use a lot!) Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if using).
  5. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on size and thickness) or until squash is fork tender.
  6. Sprinkle the well with Parmesan cheese and bake about 2 more minutes until cheese is melted.

Options/Variations:

Some nights you may not want to have “boats”. Or if you are feeding kids, it may not appeal to them to eat half a squash. Try this instead: After you scoop out the seeds, cut each delicata half into 1/4 to ½-inch thick rings, creating half-moon shaped pieces. Put squash in an 8 x 8 (or larger if needed) glass or stoneware baker. Throw in a couple tablespoons of butter and a sprinkle of salt. After baking 15 minutes at 425°F, toss squash moons in the melted butter. Add whatever flavors or spices you’d like and toss. Here are some suggestions:

• a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, a sprinkle of nutmeg and some chopped hazelnuts

• a tablespoon of minced garlic and fresh chopped rosemary

• ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper

Total cooking time will be between 30-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes and check tenderness.

Recipe: Delicata Fries

Summary: These are a yummy substitute for potato fries with a burger or steak.

Ingredients

  • Several small delicata squash
  • 1 -2 tbsp of olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Trim ends off each squash. Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of each half leaving the flesh.
  3. Cut into long steak fry type chunks leaving the skin intact.
  4. In a large bowl, toss delicata fries with olive oil or melted coconut oil to lightly coat.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Arrange fries skin side down and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes turning once or twice.
  7. Dip in chipotle ketchup or a horseradish mayo!

Other Delicata Squash Recipes:

Delicata Squash Stuffed with Apples, Herbs and Spinach – This recipe uses the cooked shells of the roasted delicata halves to serve as a boat for the squash and veggie mixture. Try different variations of this with leftover meat and veggies you may have in the fridge.

Chili-Brown Sugar Delicata Squash with Pears – The sweet of the pears and brown sugar, the savory of the delicata squash, and the spice of the chili powder topped off with bacon. What more could you want for a burst of flavors? This would be great with a pork chops or a pork roast.

Delicata Squash with Oranges and Pistachios – An easy stovetop preparation with a bright flavor burst from the orange and a crunchy texture from the pistachios.

Maple Roasted Delicata Squash with Red Onion – Let the squash and red onion start to caramelize a little to get the most of the flavors on this recipe .

 

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