Since winter squash season is in full swing, we’d like to introduce you to a lesser-known squash variety that deserves to be celebrated: delicata. So named for it’s delicate skin, unlike butternut squash, it doesn’t have to be peeled. After cooking, the skin is soft and edible. So it’s makes delicata an easy and effortless choice to prepare for those busy weeknight dinners.
Delicata squash has been gaining in popularity for the past 10 or 15 years, as more people explore their local farmers market and find unusual, interesting varieties of heirloom fruits and vegetables.
Delicata had fallen out of favor with farmers until researchers at Cornell University developed a higher yield and disease resistant variety in the late 1990’s. Even though it’s classified as a winter squash, it’s actually in the same species as many types of summer squash.
Like other winter squash, delicata is a super-nutritious choice: high in fiber, beta-carotene, and potassium all while being low in calories.
Since it’s low in calories but high in nutrients, dietitians would call this a nutrient-dense food. Nutrient-dense foods are the healthiest, because they give your body the nutrition it needs without overloading the metabolism.
Delicata’s fiber will fill you up, keep you regular, and help regulate blood sugar. Beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant in the body to help keep diseases like heart disease and cancer at bay. Potassium can actually counteract sodium in the diet somewhat in order to keep blood pressure in a healthy range. It’s time to welcome delicata to the table.
Delicata squash’s natural sweetness lends itself to both sweet and savory preparations. The simplest way to cook the squash is to slice in half, remove the seeds, and make 1-inch strips. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or drizzle with olive oil and spread the strips out. Salt and pepper to taste. Then roast at 375°F on for 15 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Eat these caramelized crescents plain, or top with a sauce made from 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1 tbsp maple syrup finished with a drizzle of fresh squeezed lemon.
If you’re looking for a dish to impress, look no further than the delicate squash rose. Your family will be so impressed by your knowledge of obscure vegetables as well as your skills in the kitchen with this drop-dead gorgeous dish.