Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Roasted Delicata Squash

It's no secret that I love fall produce - particularly all the pumpkin and squash that is so abundant this time of year. However, my favorite of all the various squash out there is not butternut, pumpkin or acorn. It's delicata! I love the rich, sweet flavor of this humble little vegetable and how wonderfully it tastes either on it's own or in a salad. I also love that unlike pretty much every other squash on the market, I do not have to spend a bit of time removing the skin! Once the squash is roasted, the skin is edible! How awesome is that? It's the perfect vegetable for a busy mom who is trying her best not to lose a finger before dinnertime.

Since delicata squash comes in a rather small, compact size (unlike some of those monster squash cousins of theirs), they are easy to slice in half lengthwise, exposing the seeds and stringy middle innards. Scoop these out with a spoon, then lay the squash on the cutting board cut-side down and slice into 1/2 inch pieces. They look kind of cute once all cut up - like little orange moons or a bunch of wrinkly ears, depending on your perspective!

Toss them with a little oil, salt, and a touch of sugar to aid with caramelizing then throw them in a 425 degree preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Voila! You have a great Fall side dish that is great on it's own or even better tossed into a salad. I like to combine it still warm with freshly chopped spinach, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, shaved Parmesan, and this apple cider vinaigrette. To me, it's a heavenly meal!

Now I will note that not everyone enjoys the fantastic flavors of this squash. This is the sad reason why I do not get to make or eat this very often. My Paul is viscerally opposed to this squash. He is kind of weird about squash in general - he likes butternut, but only if it is in a pasta, risotto, or pureed into a soup. Spaghetti squash also gets a big thumbs up from him. He pretty much detests any other cooked squash. Watching him eat my beloved delicata squash is like watching a picky three-year-old finish his dinner. He is still sitting at the kitchen table long after the rest of us have finished, timidly picking at his plate with a look of abhorrence plastered across his face. I noticed him trying to dump some of his dinner down the disposal while I wasn't looking and told him he had to finish every bite. He whined, but eventually ate everything. And I wonder where my picky eater Matthew gets it? In my opinion, he's missing out - this is delicious stuff.

Try it and see for yourself - do you agree with me or Paul?

Roasted Delicata Squash

2 pounds delicata squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and innards from the small center cavity. Turn the squash cut-side down and slice crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

In a large bowl, toss the squash slices with the olive oil, sugar, and salt. Spread evenly onto a couple foil-lined baking sheets. Place in the oven and allow to roast for about 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender and beginning to brown. You may flip the pieces after 10 minutes if you like or you can just let them go.

Remove from the oven. Let cool for about a minute and then serve warm!

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