Winter squashes are taunting you, right?
They are gorgeous, but what on earth do you do with them? And even if you try a recipe, the thick inedible skins, the goopy guts, and inconsistent sizing are often just enough of a barrier to keep you from cooking them regularly.
Butternuts are the most common and are sweet and tasty. The cylindrical tops are easy to peel by running your knife down the sides and the resulting skinned flesh is easy to dice. However, the round bottoms require a lot more effort without much payoff. Once you take the goop out and try to peel a curved surface, there’s not much flesh there. When we need a lot of butternut squash at work and we’re short on time (always), I wind up only using the tops. A small army of bottoms always comes home with me and looms in my refrigerator, taking up space that rightfully belongs to beer. I know I should just scoop them and roast them, but honestly, I don’t want to turn on the oven for only a little yield. I find it all too depressing. Especially when I think of what I paid for those bottoms. I hate to admit that they often get old and funky (and disposed of) before I get around to them.
Delicata, the striped oblong squash, is the low-maintenance squash. Its pale flesh is still sweet but the thin skin is totally edible. Its shape makes prep especially easy. If you slice it into half-moons, the curved exterior doesn’t result in a bunch of crazy cuts that won’t cook uniformly. If you’re not so good with a knife, this is the squash for you.
And once roasted, it looks fabulous still wearing its stripes.
Roasted Delicata with Rosemary and Red Chile
A hit of herb and heat add just the right notes to delicata’s tender, sweet flesh. I love to eat the leftovers cold, with my fingers, straight out of the bowl.
Serves 4 to 6
2 medium delicata squash
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. fresh rosemary, minced, or to taste
dried red chile flakes, to taste
freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with foil (if you hate doing dishes). Lightly grease.
To prep squash: Trim and discard the ends. Cut squash lengthwise. Use a sturdy spoon to scrape out seeds and goop. Place the flat, cut sides down on your cutting board and slice into half moons, 1/2″ thick.
Toss squash with minced rosemary, red chile, salt, and pepper. Lay flat on the baking sheet in one layer.
Roast for 15 minutes or until fork tender and lightly browned.