A fresh look at everyday eating

Simple Sides: Roasted Delicata Squash

Each month we’ll post a simple healthy recipe that will taste delicious, will amaze your friends and will make feel kind of silly for not trying it sooner. 

When I say that roasting vegetables is simple, I really mean simple. Like so simple, my clients that absolutely hate to cook and are downright frightened to get involved in the kitchen have turned to me and said, “that’s it?” That’s it.

Before I get into the logistics, let me tell you why I like roasting veggies as an option and why it has to be simple. I’m a mom to two sort of picky-(“I only like xyz cooked in this way” or “whatever she’s having I’ll have the opposite”) kids. My kids also like flavor which sometimes translates into too much butter or too much salt. The nice thing about roasting is that it adds flavor without adding too much of either. And, it looks really appetizing on the plate.

Just like anything you eat, too much of one thing is not good, and roasted food is included in that. The high heat of roasting may diminish some the nutrients found in raw vegetables. And, if you are using oil, heating the oil past it’s smoke point causes the release of free radicals which are harmful to your health. So, use oil sparingly and use an oil that can stand higher temps in the oven. I like using refined oils like canola or avocado oil that have been designed to withstand high tempertures when cooking.

The “not-so-new” side dish

Delicata Squash is nothing new to the holiday table. I remember watching an old episode of Martha Stewart (pre Snoop Dog days) where she was roasting some for a holiday feast. At the time I thought they were special heirloom vegetables she grew in her Connecticut garden and not easily obtainable. Fast forward to today and I see them everywhere. (note: they are usually found in your local grocery store starting as early as August through late December if you’re lucky) 

What makes them so special to me is that you can eat the skin. That’s right…no need to peel them! Just give the outside a good washing and you’re good to go!

Next, turn your oven on to 425F. We need high heat to really get a golden glow and some carmelization. That’s what makes these guys so delicious!

So, now you’re going to slice them lengthwise and clean out the seeds. I save the seeds for roasting (just like pumpkin seeds) and add them to salads or just snack on them. You can learn how to roast pumpkin (or squash) seeds in my older post on Roasting Pumpkin Seeds.

Once you have the seeds cleaned out, cut the squash into half moons like I did below.They should be  about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. If they are too thick they will take too long to cook and may burn.

Add your squash pieces to a bowl with a about a tablespoon of your oil (remember to use an oil made for high heat cooking!), and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to coat.

Arrange your squash pieces on your roasting pan that has been sprayed liberally with your high heat oil. For the roasting pan, I like using a dark pan, since it results in a darker color on the vegetables, but you can use a regular aluminum baking sheet, as well. The color on your veggies will be lighter. but still result in the carmelization you want. Roast your squash in the oven for 8-9 minutes, then take them out and flip them over to the other side and roast for another 8-9 minutes.

And, that’s it! You can eat these just like this (literally right off the roasting pan…they’re so good!) Or, you can arrange them over a wild rice pilaf, let them cool and add them to a salad, or you can make a whole bunch and arrange them on a platter for the table. Sprinkle some parsley, drizzle some olive oil or hazelnut oil over it, and maybe even crumble some feta cheese to add another flavor profile. So simple and delicious!