I’ve enjoyed a dizzying array of autumn squash recently. The markets are bursting with different varieties, and the days of buttered brown sugar-baked acorn squash seem a dim and distant memory.
Don’t get me wrong — that preparation is delicious and certainly has merit — but there are so many other types of squash and so many other ways to prepare it, I urge you to escape that rut.
Crispy Delicata Squash Slices
Serves two to four
I have been especially partial to delicata squash of late. It delivers the sweet nuttiness of a butternut, but you can eat the skin and it is much easier to cut. These tasty crescents bridge the gap between side dish and snack. Full disclosure: I took my eye off the ball, cooked these a bit too long and they became more charred than ideal. That said, we ate the entire plate of crunchy, salty, burnt goodness. Next time, I won’t watch Jeopardy! late in the roasting process.
It’s important to cut the slices uniformly so the squash cooks at the same rate. I went super basic with these, using just salt, pepper and oil, but you can be as creative as you like; try cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, curry — the sky is the limit. Parchment paper saves on cleanup. If you are fussy about how evenly they cook, you could flip the slices halfway through; for me, that was overkill. Plus, I wanted to see the final Jeopardy! question.
- 2 delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and sliced into ½-inch semicircles
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Generous grinding of pepper
Heat your oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the squash, oil and seasonings. Toss to coat and distribute evenly.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, and place the squash slices in a single layer in the pan.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the squash is browning and starting to crisp. Serve hot or at room temperature.
When I bought a large spaghetti squash at the market last week, I asked the farmer about the best way to prepare it. I followed his advice, and the results were quite good. We served this as a side dish with roasted salmon, but you can also use the spaghetti squash as a healthier alternative to pasta.
The second phase of this recipe — sautéing the spaghetti squash strands in butter or oil with garlic — adds a delicious flavor and texture. If you are serving it solo as a side dish, then this is a nice way to amplify it. But if you are topping it with pesto or marinara or some other sauce, the sauté step is superfluous.
I researched the best way to bake this squash and came across a clever tip: Roasting it face down drains the moisture and results in a better texture when you scrape.
- 1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Sprinkle of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil or butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Brush the flesh of the squash with oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
Place the squash, cut side down, in a baking dish, and bake it for 45 minutes until the flesh is totally soft.
When the squash is done, scrape the flesh with a fork to form spaghetti-like strands.
In a large skillet, heat the butter or oil with garlic, salt and pepper until fragrant. Add the cooked spaghetti squash and sauté until coated with seasoned oil. Serve immediately.
Serves four to six
This dish is wonderfully seasonal and unique. Small pumpkins work well here. You can omit the cheese if you wish to make this vegan, but if you are OK with dairy, it adds a velvety saltiness that is pretty divine.
- 4 baby pumpkins
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1½ cups Arborio rice
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup white wine
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Cut the pumpkins into small chunks and place them in medium saucepan with an inch of water. Steam, covered, until soft, about 8 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a bowl and set it aside. You should have about 3 cups.
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and wine to a boil; lower the heat and keep it to a simmer.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil with the salt, red pepper, garlic and onion. Sauté until the onion and garlic are soft and fragrant.
Add the rice and stir to coat.
Add one cup of simmering broth and stir until it is absorbed. Repeat this process, adding broth a cup at a time until it is absorbed, until nearly all broth is used and the rice is cooked to al dente. Save 1 cup of broth. This will take about 30 minutes.
Add the pumpkin with the last cup of broth and stir until the broth is absorbed and the risotto is creamy. Add cheese, if using, and serve immediately.