• Simply Fresh–Week 14–Delicata Squash (and Bonus Spaghetti Squash Recipe)

    Hey Folks, I’ll be at the CSA barn this Saturday at 12:30 pm conducting a cooking demonstration. Come on by and learn some delicious ways to use spaghetti squash, delicata squash, arugula, potatoes, eggplant, husk cherries and raspberries. Hope to see you there.

    Featured Item– Delicata Squash

    Delicata squash is the perfect transition vegetable from summer to fall—it still provides that beautiful late summer color (its flesh is a nice bright yellow) but it is starchier and heavier than summer squash, which satisfies the beginnings of our comfort food cravings. Further, the skin is thinner than other winter squash so it is generally edible when cooked—this allows us to start enjoying the fall produce without introducing the hassle of tough outer skins. Finally, add to the fact that it has a dense, silky texture and an irresistible sweet flavor (kind of like butternut or sweet potato) and you have a real winner.

    Sometimes called sweet potato squash (for its flavor) or peanut squash (for its shape), delicata squash is an heirloom variety that has only been around for a little over a hundred years. It has long been popular for its wonderful taste. However, it fell out of favor for years due to the fact that it is more difficult than other winter squash to transport and store because of its thinner skin. We are fortunate to be able to try this special gem in our CSA distribution.

    Delicata squash is oblong and has creamy yellowish white skin with dark green striping. Like other winter squash, it will keep for at least a month (and sometimes more) in cool (not cold), dry, dark storage so it can be enjoyed late into the fall. A basement or garage can work well as long as the squash does not freeze. Keep in mind that squash that has bruises or other damage will spoil more quickly.

    Like other winter squash, delicata can be baked, steamed, or boiled. Here are some more specific preparation ideas. Note that some preparations instruct you to peel the squash.  This is truly not easy to do.  Be very careful when peeling it raw.  I recommend cutting it in half crosswise, placing it cut side down on a cutting board, and then using a sharp knife to cut the peel off from top to bottom while moving the squash a turn after each cut.  If you have a very sharp vegetable peeler, that is even simpler.  Delicata is much easier to peel when baked or steamed, however.

    • Stuffed: Slice lengthwise, seed, then bake, covered. Stuff and then re-bake, uncovered, to warm through. Stuffing ingredients that work well are cooked greens, nuts, rice or grains, ground meats, cheeses, bread (like breadcrumbs), and dried fruit (e.g. cranberries, raisins). See this example recipe (click here)
    • Pureed (like mashed potatoes): There are two general ways to do this. 1. Peel and chop and then steam or boil until tender. Drain. Puree with favorite add-ins like butter, milk/cream, and cheese. 2. Slice lengthwise and seed. Bake, covered, until tender. Scoop out flesh from skin and puree as above.
    • Soups/stews (see recipe below): Dice (unpeeled or peeled) and add to soups/stews. Cook until just tender. Great in chili, vegetables soups, bean soups, and meat soups/stews.
    • Creamy pureed soup:  Peel, seed and dice. Cook onions, leeks, shallots, and/or garlic in a bit of olive oil until tender. Add squash. Pour in vegetable or chicken broth until squash is just covered. Add herbs like sage or thyme. Cook until squash is tender. Process in blender until smooth. You can add a bit of cream, sour cream, or fresh herbs to finish if you like. (Alternatively, steam or bake squash, then peel, then puree).
    • Simply baked:  Slice it lengthwise, seed, drizzle with a bit of melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (and maybe a bit of brown sugar), cover, and bake until tender. At 350, this will take about 45-60 minutes. You can also bake half moon slices, which will take about 15 minutes to cook through.
    • Braised (see recipe below):  Sliced lengthwise, seeded and sliced into pretty half moons and either baked or braised in cider, broth, wine, and/or fruit juice (like orange or apple cider).
    • Layered (like in “lasagna” or casseroles):
      Slice lengthwise, seed, and bake, covered. Slice and layer cooled baked squash in a casserole dish with other ingredients such as cheese, greens, white sauce, nuts etc…and bake until hot throughout.
    • Salad (see recipe below): Add cooked delicata to green or grain salads with fall dried fruits and a sweet dressing like either maple or molasses vinaigrette (see recipe below)
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    It looks like arugula may be in the distribution next week (not this week).  So save your delicata and be sure to try this tasty recipe combining lentils, delicata, dates and arugula.  It just screams of fall.

    Lentil and Delicata Salad with Dates, Arugula, and Molasses Vinaigrette
    Author: 
    Serves: 6
     
    Ingredients
    • - 1 cup brown lentils
    • - 3 cups broth or water
    • - 1 small cinnamon stick
    • - 1 small delicata squash, or half large
    • - 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • - 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • - ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • - 1 tablespoon molasses
    • - ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • - ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • - 2 large handfuls baby arugula
    • - ½ cup pitted dates, cut into thirds
    • - ¼ cup peacns, toasted and roughly chopped
    Instructions
    1. Heat broth with a pinch of salt and cinnamon stick on medium-high heat until it begins to boil. Add lentils and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender but with a bit of a bite (you don’t want them to turn to mush). Drain lentils well and discard cinnamon stick. Place hot lentils in a large bowl. Add dates and stir well. Allow to cool to just above room temperature.
    2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400℉. Oil a large baking sheet. Cut off ends of squash and then cut squash lengthwise down the middle. With a large spoon remove seeds and pulp from center of each half. Turn each half cut side down and slice into thin half moons (if it is a large squash cut the half moons again in half). Place squash slices on baking sheet so they do not touch. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender, turning at least once. Remove from oven.
    3. Blend apple cider vinegar, olive oil, molasses, Dijon, pumpkin pie spice and salt using a hand held or stationary blender until smooth and emulsified.
    4. Place cooked squash, arugula, and pecans in bowl with lentils and dates and stir carefully. Add vinaigrette and stir carefully until dressing is well incorporated. Taste for salt level and add salt and pepper to taste iff desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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    This stew I put together using many items I had leftover from past week’s shares.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact same ingredients. This is a very versatile recipe. Use what you have.  Add in some greens if you have them.  Chopped radishes, mini eggplant, tomatillos, potatoes etc… would all go nicely in this recipe. The important thing is to have enough liquid to cover the ingredients from tomatoes (regular, cherry, or tomatillo).  If you don’t have much of those, sub in broth.  If you end up with too much liquid, simply reduce it off at the end of cooking the stew.

    End of Summer Mexican Stew with Delicata          Serves 6-8

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
    – 1 medium onion, chopped
    – 1 medium delicata squash, seeded and chopped
    – 1 round or reguar summer squash or zucchini, chopped
    – 2 poblano chiles, seeded, deribbed, and chopped
    – 2-3 cups chopped sweet peppers or snacking peppers
    – 1-2 jalapeños, seeded, deribbed, and minced
    – 1 ear of corn, kernels removed with a sharp knife
    – 2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
    – 1/2 – 1 lb. tomatoes, chopped
    – about 1/2 quart cherry tomatoes, halved
    – 1 14 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
    – 1-2 tablespoon Mexican seasoning blend, to taste (see recipe below)
    – 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

    METHOD:

    Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add onions, delicata, poblano chile, sweet peppers, and jalapeño, Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add zucchini or summer squash, tomatoes, green beans and seasoning. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until tomatoes break down and release their juices. Your tomatoes should generate enough liquid to make a soup and veggies should be able to submerge in the liquid to cook. If you don’t have enough liquid, add broth or water. Bring mixture to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until delicata is tender and the rest of the veggies are tender. Add beans at about 10 minutes in.  Remove lid and taste for seasoning. Add more Mexican seasoning if needed. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice.

    Mexican Seasoning

    SOURCE: Adapted from Grouprecipes.com

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 1 tablespoon chili powder
    – 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, heaping
    – 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, heaping
    – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or less, according to desired degree of heat
    – 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    – 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    – 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    – 1 teaspoon coarse salt
    – 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

    METHOD:

    Mix well and store in airtight container. I like to grind in a morter and pestle to release flavors. Makes about 3 tablespoons.SOURCE: Adapted from Grouprecipes.com

    Note:  Double or triple the recipe to have enough for soups, taco meat, etc…

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    This dish is great for fall and would pair nicely with pork tenderloin/chops or ham.

    The recipe was adapted from The New York Times .

    Cider Glazed Delicata with Rosemary                                    Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:
    – 1 large Delicata squash
    – 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    – 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
    – 1 1/4 cups apple cider
    – 1/2 teaspoon salt
    – 1 tablespoons pure maple syrup

    Method:

    Scrub squash and cut off ends.  Halve lengthwise and remove seeds.  Slice crosswise into 1/4″ thick half moon slices.

    In a small bowl, mix apple cider, rosemary, salt and maple syrup until syrup is dissolved.
    In a 10″ skillet, melt butter until foamy. Add squash and cider mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking undisturbed for 8 minutes. Remove cover and increase heat until cider is at a rolling boil. Cook, stirring occasionally (stir gently as squash gets cooked so it doesn’t break apart), for another 20 minutes, or until sauce has reduced to a thick glaze. Serve.

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    More on spaghetti squash…Lori, a fellow CSA member, wrote in last week about an alternate way of preparing spaghetti squash.  She recommends salting and draining the squash first, then baking it without water.  The result is supposed to yield less mushy and watery spaghetti squash strands.  I tried Lori’s method this week for my Cheesy Stuffed Spaghetti Squash and agree that it was a superior method to cooking in water. Thank you Lori!!

    I came up with this recipe as a way to use up some Swiss chard, leftover jarred pizza sauce, and shredded mozzarella I had in the fridge.  I have to say, I found the result addictive.

    Cheesy Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
    – about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    – 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    – 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
    – 1 bunch Swiss Chard, leaves stripped from stem and center rib and chopped into small pieces (washed so leaves are wet)
    – about 1/2 – 3/4 cup organic pizza sauce without added sugar
    – 1/2 cup shreddded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
    – 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

    METHOD:

    1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Oil the bottom of a large baking sheet. Sprinkle salt evenly in cavity and on sides of seeded squash halves. Turn halves over on a triple layer of paper towels and allow to sit for one half hour to drain. Use paper towels to dry squash cavities and remove excess salt. Place cut side up in baking sheet. Wrap baking sheet tightly with foil. Bake for about one hour or until just tender (I don’t like my squash to get too mushy). Reduce oven temperature to 350℉. Allow squash to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully turn squash halves over and empty out any water that has collected in the cavity. Being careful to leave a bit of an outer edge so that the shells won’t split apart once filled, use a fork to release the strands of squash. Place squash strands in a bowl.

    2. Place two teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic slices and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add Swiss chard leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cover pan and allow to cook, stirring once or twice, until leaves are wilted and tender. Remove lid and add shredded squash and pizza sauce. Stir until well combined, adding more sauce if needed. If mixture is watery, allow it to boil off and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in half cup of cheese and one tablespoon parmesan.  Divide squash mixture evenly into squash shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.

    3. Place squash halves back in original baking pan. Place, uncovered, in oven for 15 minutes (longer if you have refrigerated the stuffing for later cooking). Serve immediately.

One Responseso far.

  1. Lori says:

    Hooray, I’m glad the dry cooking method worked for you!

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