As you saw yesterday, we picked up two Delicata squash in our CSA share this week. Now, we don’t know about you, but we don’t think that we’ve ever had a Delicata squash before. Oh sure, there’s always one person standing way in the back who claims to have eaten them dozens and dozens of times. So many Delicata, in fact that he’s tired of them. That may be true, but we’re still looking forward to trying them, and we think we found a good first-timer recipe.
This recipe comes from those two southern gentlemen, Matt Lee, and Ted Lee, who have scoured the low country for great recipes to share in their book Simple, Fresh, Southern. We will say that we’ve changed this recipe by swapping out some of the butter for olive oil, and using more spice than the original version. Also, the shapes of the squash look more like canoes than half-moons, but, other than that, it’s the same recipe.
Any kind of winter squash will work, so don’t limit yourself to Delicata squash. Try acorn, or butternut, or whatever looks good at the market. We used garam masala for our spice mix, but it would work with curry powder, or a mix of thyme, sage, and rosemary, or cinnamon and nutmeg. If you’re not sure, try it; you might find the next big flavor combination. Butter, use unsalted, of course. You’ll be salting the squash as it bakes and we think you can manage that without the butter maker’s help. Sesame seeds, you’ll be tempted to omit the seeds completely, or skip the toasting, but don’t. They add a nice crunch and are worth the effort.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (do it and you’ll thank us later; skip the parchment, and you’ll wish you hadn’t).
Halve and clean squash. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. If you’re using Delicata squash, as we did, you’ll note how easy this is compared to other winter squash. The seeds just seem to slide right out, so we guess that Delicata refers to delicate.
Slice squash. Once cleaned, slice each half into three pieces lengthwise. If you’re using squash that is globular, you’ll have six half-moons. With the Delicata, we had something more akin to six canoe shapes.
Melt butter. Place the butter and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. As it melts, the butter will foam a bit; continue heating until the foaming stops, about 2 minutes.
Add spices. Stir the chosen spice mixture into the butter. It might foam up a bit, but don’t worry, it won’t foam much or for long. Give everything a good stirring, as the spices tend to settle, then remove from heat.
Spice squash. We didn’t use a pastry brush; instead, we just spooned and spread about half of the butter-spice mixture over the squash. Once you’ve got the butter mixture on the squash, sprinkle with about half the salt (1/2 teaspoon).
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the edges are just beginning to brown and crisp.
Toast sesame seeds. While those squash are baking, place the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat and stir. Keep stirring, as they burn easily, until they turn a nice golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Once toasted, place them in a small bowl so they’ll stop toasting and cool.
Reheat butter. When the squash are ready, reheat the butter-spice mixture, stirring up all those lovely spices that have settled on the bottom.
Spice squash. Remove the squash from the oven — you’re glad you used parchment, right? — and give it another brushing/spreading of butter and spice. Then sprinkle with the remaining salt (1/2 teaspoon) and all the sesame seeds.
For our first foray into the wonders of Delicata squash (well, that might be over the top) this was a great recipe. We’re not sure if it was the type of squash or the cooking method, but these squash turned out creamy and smooth. Even though it seemed like a lot of spice and salt, it wasn’t too much. A lot dripped off while cooking, so it really helps to have that second brushing when you’re ready to serve the squash. The sesame seeds add a nice little nutty crunch, making the texture of the squash a mix of smooth and crunchy, which worked wonders to make this an interesting side. When we first decided on this recipe, we debated on whether we should bake one or two squash; we went with one, but when we were eating them, we wished we’d made two. A sure sign of a five-star side, don’t you think?