food facts

the wonderful world of unexplored squash: what to do with a delicata

Squash is one of those words you only ever hear from the months September-November. Can you imagine any scenario when you would bring up the vivacious veggie in conversation in, say, June?

Nonetheless, squash becomes a bit of an obsession this time of year.

From butternut to pumpkin, acorn to spaghetti and everything in between, it’s like there’s this tiny window of opportunity to cook such a unique species of vegetable that it makes foodies everywhere dash to their ovens and hike it up to 425 yelling “Let the roasting commence!”

Yesterday I shared with you that I recently cooked a delicata squash. I realized when I woke up this morning how unfair it was to just share that photo with you and not really get into some more detail about the wonderful world of unexplored squash (doesn’t part of you just wish that the plural of squash was “squashes”?)

Delicata squash!!

I stumbled upon this darling delicata last week at Trader Joe’s. I was swapping stories with one of the employees while sampling their pumpkin spice coffee and delicious spiced apple cider when I asked what her favorite pumpkin products were this year. If anyone else took a glance at the latest Fearless Flyer you know that there are probably a dozen pumpkin-themed products lining the shelves of TJ’s and I really needed an insider’s take on just which ones were worth it. Instead of leading me to the pumpkin pancakes or butternut squash soup she pointed directly at the delicata squash. “You have to try that.” So into my cart it went, what looked like the cross between an over-sized cucumber and a giant peanut. All I was armed with were the instructions to “cut, drizzle with olive oil, season, and roast.”

Ah the risky life of the ever-curious foodie.

Long story short I did exactly what she told me and was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it! I sliced off the ends of the squash, cut it lengthwise, cleaned out the insides (post-picture), drizzled it with EVOO and salt+pepper, and stuck it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the insides were soft when I stabbed it with a fork.

So what does delicata squash taste like? It tasted slightly sweet, like a sweet potato, but the texture was just a bit more firm, kind of like a spaghetti squash. It was smooth but not as creamy as sweet potatoes are. Like most squash, it really took on the flavor of the olive oil, salt and pepper but still tasted fresh and earthy, making it the perfect side to any lean protein. I ate half the squash while waiting for my fish to cook because I just couldn’t stave off my curiosity any longer.

Some quick facts about delicata squash:

  • It goes by many nicknames: the sweet potato squash, the peanut squash, the Bohemian squash
  • A 3/4-cup contains 30 just calories
  • It is fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, and a great source of Vitamins C and A
  • Throw the peeler aside – you can eat the skin!

Here are a few amazing recipes I came across will be using for inspiration over the next few weeks:

Roasted Squash Blossom

Delicata-Squash5W

Delicata Squash Soup

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Roasted Cinnamon-Ginger Delicata Squash delicata-7

Delicata Squash & Chard Penne Pasta

Produce On Parade - Delicata Squash & Chard Penne Pasta - A perfect early autumn penne pasta with roasted delicata squash, sautéed chard and bell pepper, dressed in a fresh, herbed tomato sauce-

So join me in pumpkin rehab and pick up a delicata squash after work today. Because honestly, why the heck not? It’s like $2 and it keeps you from having to turn to those frozen mixed vegetables (again) that I know we’re all guilty of hoarding.

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite fall recipe/food that doesn’t include pumpkin or apple?
  • Do foreign veggies like this one intimidate you, or do you pick one up and experiment just for the heck of it?
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