In the winter squash universe, everyone, it seems, has an exotic- sounding name or one of those sweet-nothing terms of endearment. Kabocha. Hubbard and Kuri. Buttercup and Sweet Dumpling. (Don’t you feel amorous just by the mere mention of their names?)
I must confess, however, the one variety that stands above the rest and has me howling at the moon like a star-crossed lover is Delicata.
With her thin, edible skin, she makes slicing a breeze and dinner prep like a walk in the park. I slice her into squash doughnut holes, and in less than an hour, she’s tender, naturally sweet and ready for feasting. She requires little seasoning (some salt and a little oil to keep from sticking will do), as her true essence --a cross of sweet potato and corn – emerges after some time in the oven.
If you’re wondering how a bunch of roasted squash doughnuts could be called supper, humor me just a little bit more: Team it up with a quick-cooking autumn green like lacinato kale (aka dinosaur kale) and your favorite stove-top grain, and you've got an autumnal riot of color on the plate, a variety of textures and flavors talking to each other.
Nutritionally, Delicata is nuturing, offering extraordinary amounts of vitamins A and C, lots of potassium, fiber and yes, even some of those heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. The kale, in turn, offers off-the-charts amounts of vitamin K, more of that A & C, respectable amounts of calcium and even a wee bit of protein. After dinner, you should feel like a million bucks.
So if you’ve given up on winter squash because you need to buy or borrow an axe to wield the skin, give my girl Delicata a whirl. I reckon you'll fall in love -- at first bite .
Roasted Delicata Squash Supper
1 delicata squash, cut into ½-inch rings, seeds and strings removed
A few tablespoons of vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1 cup of kale leaves, stem removed
1-2 cups quinoa (great gluten-free option), Israeli couscous or pearl barley, cooked according to package instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place squash in a single layer on a baking tray or in a oven-proof dish. With a silicone brush, apply oil on both sides of squash rings, applying salt on both sides as well.
Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare quinoa, couscous or pearl barley. Just before the grains are done, add kale, cover pot and allow to steam right on top.
With tongs or a fork, turn squash onto second side. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Return squash to oven for another 15 minutes or until fork tender.
Spoon kale-carb mélange onto a plate and serve with squash rings.
Makes enough for two, maybe three servings.
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