I thought it might be fun to start a series of recipes for some of the more unusual produce you might see at the farmer’s market or local farm stand or that might be starting to make their way into your supermarket. I’m someone who is always interested in trying new (to me) fruits and vegetables so I’m happy to forge ahead and share my newfound knowledge with you. There is so much variety out there and so many heirloom vegetables and fruits to enjoy!
Like delicata squash. Technically, it is indeed a summer squash and is closely related to the zucchini. But in reality it doesn’t know if it’s a summer squash or a winter squash. It has seeds you need to scoop out like a winter squash. And creamy, fine yellow flesh like a winter squash. And it even keeps more like a winter squash, not all winter, but it will keep for a couple of months if kept in a cool, dry place and properly sanitized. But the skin is thin and easy to slice like a summer squash. And it doesn’t need to be peeled, like a summer squash.
Delicata squash is basically a winter squash with the ease of preparation of a summer squash. Win/win.
How about a little history?
Delicata was first introduced into the US in the 1890’s. But it was a more perishable and less prolific version than we have today, so the rise of factory farming just about obliterated it. Like many of our heirloom varieties, a few people kept it going; however, it was likely to remain in obscurity or be lost. That is until some breeders at Cornell University got a hold of it. Now this is the exciting bit, at least to me since I’m a science geek. They managed to create a disease resistant (less fungicide), high producing, open pollinated squash plant. This means that the seeds can be saved and still produce the same squash and the squash is easier to grow organically. They won a well-deserved award for their work.
History lesson over, it’s time to talk recipes and cooking. And delicata? Is tasty and easy to use and is just the right size for a side dish. I already have plans to try it in a number of other recipes.
This particular recipe was inspired by some roasted delicata my mom made recently. She made it in her Breville toaster oven (I have one too and I love it but it was a bit too small for this recipe) so it didn’t get a chance to caramelize like it does in a full oven, but rather it steamed. It was still excellent and we ate it all up.
Once I got home I knew I needed to roast up some delicata squash rings of my own. The only question was what flavors I wanted to use. My mom used some parmesan cheese and I liked that so that was staying. A little thought and I decided that thyme leaves and pecans were exactly what the recipe needed to round out the flavors.
- 1 medium delicata squash, about 1 lb
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- thyme sprigs, about 5-6
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Cut the stem off the squash, slice the squash lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Slice it into ½ inch thick half moons.
- In a large bowl, toss squash with olive oil, thyme leaves, and salt, and then spread it out onto a baking sheet. Try to spread it out evenly so all the squash has a chance to caramelize against the baking sheet as it cooks.
- Place baking sheet in the oven and roast for 25 minutes, turning squash after about 15 minutes, or until the squash is soft and browned. An additional 5 minutes may be needed.
- Once the squash is done roasting, take the baking sheet out of the oven and sprinkle the pecans, parmesan cheese, and thyme springs over the squash.
- Return pan to oven and roast for another 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it now! The pecans can go from nicely browned to burnt more quickly than you might think.