One of the things I love most about fall is that it is so abundantly pretty. When the autumn sky is blue it is so exquisitely stark it feels almost fragile as if it might crack open. The light falls bluer and the sky is a perfect backdrop for looking up at spiderwebs and crimson tinged golden leaves barely hanging from thinning branches as they let go to ride the wind. In time the ground is covered with shades of bronze, mustard, russet, and vermillion. The gargantuan leaves of pumpkin vines wither revealing fields dotted with festive globes in shades of orange. Apples, gourds and squash are stacked high at the grocery with decorations for our kitchen and holiday tables.
I love to look through the piles of winter squash reading the clever names on the stickers: Butternut, Acorn, Ambercup, Carnival, Kabocha, Turban and, my favorite, Delicata. These winter staples are beautiful arranged in piles with Indian corn and fall leaves. There is a practical appeal in the fact that they are edible but how to cook with them can be a mystery.
For years I barely used the squash I decorated with in the fall. They were hard to cut and I wasn’t sure how to cook them. But then I realized how good they were. Finding the flesh of some varieties to be as creamy as mashed potatoes and so slightly sweet and satisfying I began to simply roast them in the oven until they were easily pierced with a fork.
Last week I went to the grocery to pick up a few more Delicata squash from the produce isle. Picking through for the prettiest shapes and colors I gathered my favorites in my arm. Before I got out of the store several people stopped to ask me what I planned to do with them. It seems I'm not the only one who has wondered how to use these beautiful winter squash. So here’s what I told them...
Roasted Delicata Squash
Wash the squash and cut it in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.
Scrape the seeds and fiber out with a spoon. (Wash and separate the seeds from the fiber and reserve them to roast if you desire.)
Lay the squash cut side down on a baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes or until the squash is tender when pricked with a fork. (Or if you have something else in the oven at a different temperature roast the squash at that temperature adjusting the time accordingly.)
Remove from the oven.
Serve and enjoy!
Note: This is a simple cooking method but I find the Delicata squash is sweet and flavorful enough that it needs no dressing up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and some herbs if you like. Top with a smidgeon of butter and brown sugar if you want something sweeter. Really though, it is delicious as is.
Roasting Herbs: I do like to add sprigs of fresh herbs to the roasting pan. If you have fresh herbs growing in the garden, or left over from another use, this is a great way to release their fragrance and make the kitchen smell wonderful. I especially like to add rosemary, thyme and sage to the roasting pan. When the pan is removed from the oven and the herbs have cooled, they can easily be crumbled onto your squash or other dishes. Or simply discard and enjoy the lingering aroma.
Roasting Squash Seeds: To roast squash seeds toss with a little oil and your choice of seasoning. You can use herbs or spices or simply salt.( I shook the seeds from my Delicata squash in a Ziploc baggie, along with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and a teaspoon of madras hot curry powder.) Spread them on a pan and roast along with the squash, stirring every 10 minutes or so until they begin to brown. If roasting separately, try a low temperature, approximately 250 degrees.