We get some of our favorite inspirational ideas from fine chefs. Today’s inspiration is from Michael White of Vaucluse in New York City.
Delicata squash is typically baked, but can also be sautéed or steamed. The flesh is known for its creamy flavor and texture, and you can eat the cooked rind.
The squash can be stuffed with meat, grains, vegetables or mixtures. The seeds of can be toasted and eaten, like pumpkin seeds, or used to garnish the dish.
In photo #1, Chef White baked the squash, filled it with a poached egg and surrounded it with sautéed chanterelles, baby beets and lardons in a red wine jus. Easy, peasy, just right for fall and winter.
We created a copycat version.
You can stuff the squash with whatever you like. Most popular are grains and poached eggs, but you can also fill the cylinder with green salad.
We made the recipe in photo, #1 with mushrooms and baby beets, but you can use whatever vegetables you like, including brussels sprouts and pearl onions. We added canned chestnuts.
Among mushrooms, the yellow hue of chanterelles adds more to the plate than white mushrooms.
You can substitute another type of bacon for the lardons, or omit the meat entirely.
Make a larger quantity of vegetables if you want to serve more with the dish—a luncheon dish or main dinner course, for example (or if you want leftovers).
Ingredients For 6 Servings
1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Place the lardons in a single layer on a baking pan and roast for 30 minutes until the bacon is crisp, tossing halfway through. Remove and drain.
2. LOWER the oven temperature to 400°F. Coat the bottom of a baking pan with a brush of olive oil (or, use the same pan as the lardons, for more bacon flavor.
3. CUT the squash as desired: in halves, cylinders (photo #1) or slices (photos # 2 and #3). Remove the seeds and pith, season with salt and pepper, and arrange on the pan (place halves flesh side down). Bake until a fork easily pierces the skin and flesh, about 25 minutes. Slices will cook more quickly.
3. FLIP the squash halfway through. If roasting halved squash, cook for 25 minutes, flip and and roast 5 minutes more. If you want grill marks, as in photo #1, you can take the extra step. It’s easy for a restaurant, which has the grill going as well as the stove and the oven. While the squash is cooking…
4. COOK the vegetables. For dense vegetables like baby brussels sprouts or pearl onions, steam them until tender and then add them to the sauté pan to finish with the other vegetables. Keep warm.
5. MAKE the jus. We made a faux jus: Instead of reducing stock, we added a tablespoon of red wine to the butter in the pan. Keep warm.
6. POACH the eggs.
7. ASSEMBLE. Assemble, garnish and serve. We warmed everything but the just-cooked-eggs in the microwave, 30 seconds, while the eggs were poaching.
Delicata squash is a variety of winter squash that is cylindrical, with a creamy colored base and green or orange stripes. Unlike other winter squash varieties, its rind is thin (delicate), hence its name.
The entire squash family is indigenous to Central and North America. It was introduced to early European settlers by Native Americans.
In the context of thousands of years of squash cultivation, the delicata variety is quite new. It was first introduced by a seed developer in 1894. However, attractive and easy to cook as it is, it wasn’t widely grown due to susceptibility to mildew.
And it almost disappeared some 40 years after its introduction, following the Great Depression!
The reason there’s delicata today is thanks to Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding. In the early 2000s, a team bred a delicata that grew on bushes rather than vines, and was resistant to most known squash diseases. It is now the primary commercial cultivar.
Seed developers also have bred varieties with more sweetness, such as Sugar Loaf and Honey Boat.
Although consumed mature, like other winter squash, delicata actually belongs to the same species (Cucurbita pepo) as most types of summer squash. The species includes pattypan squash, yellow crookneck squash, yellow squash and zucchini. (The species also includes Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins.)