FALL in love with something new: Delicata Squash

This suggestion came in from my Smith/Abruzzese ladies who are always trying out new recipes and supporting the local harvest of Bucks County, PA. So when they mentioned the delicata squash to me, I was definitely intrigued. “What a fabulous name!” I thought. I didnt do much research, and headed straight for the Union Square Farmers Market to see what this was all about. The only way I want to describe it is: “If an acorn squash and a zucchini had a baby, it might look a little like this.” :)

Here’s a little Wiki-background for you:

Delicata squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal dark green stripes on a yellow or cream colored background and sweet, orange-yellow flesh. It is also known as the peanut squash, Bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash. Although considered a winter squash, delicata squash belongs to the same species as all types of summer squash (including pattypan squashzucchiniand yellow crookneck squash).

Delicata squash is most commonly baked, but can also be microwaved, sautéed or steamed. It may be stuffed with meat or vegetable mixtures. The seeds of the squash are also eaten, usually after being toasted. This squash is not as rich in beta-carotene as other winter squashes, but is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and Bmagnesium, andmanganese.

CHILI-BROWN SUGAR DELICATA SQUASH AND PEARS

Source: Adapted from EatingWell (November/December 2010)

Makes about 4 servings as a side dish or 2 servings for a meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound delicata squash (about 2 medium to large)
  • 2 medium ripe but firm pears
  • 2-3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 slices bacon (Optional for vegetarian roommates :D)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Toasted nuts (we used pine nuts and pecans)
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries or cherries
  • sprinkle of nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut squash in half “hot-dog” stlye :) and scoop out the seeds. Lay flat so nothing rolls aroundut crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, paprika, chili powder, dried cranberries/cherries, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet.
  3. Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. For my carnivores: Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 2 teaspoons fat from the pan. Over medium heat, stir in water, brown sugar and chili powder. Add the squash and pears; toss to coat. Crumble the bacon on top.
  5. For my veggie roommate: Instead of saving the brown sugar and chili powder for the bacon, we tossed those items with the pears, oil, salt, pepp, etc. in step 2 and roasted everything together.
  6. Top with a drizzle of honey, top with toasted nuts, and dive into the yumminess of FALL!

Winter squash with summer relatives…sounds like the perfect way to kick off this…fall? :) Haha. Either way, this confused squash was DELECTABLE! Much like its name. Thanks, Mama Smith and Juliet for the suggestion! I’d be lost without you.