Delicata: An eye-catcher among winter squashes

The recipe of the week features a salad with raw delicata squash with fingerling potatoes and pomegranate seeds.

For some reason, people find cooking with winter squashes intimidating, said Sam Mogannam in Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food (Ten Speed Press). At our San Francisco grocery store, we encourage home cooks to take more chances, and “in my mind, hard squash is one of the most underutilized vegetables out there.” These hearty vegetables are inexpensive, delicious, and unusually easy to keep on hand, since they can be stored for about a month at a cool room temperature.

In recipes, hard squashes are often interchangeable. If you like a dish that features butternut squash, maybe you’ll love it with kabocha, acorn, or Hubbard. Delicata and spaghetti squashes are exceptions to this rule. Unlike its brethren, spaghetti squash turns stringy when cooked. Delicata, meanwhile, has a delicate skin, which makes peeling almost impossible. “Why fight it?” Since the skin is edible, just scoop out the seeds, slice the delicata into “pretty half-moons,” and enjoy them in an autumnal salad like the one below.

Recipe of the week

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Delicata squash salad with fingerling potatoes and pomegranate seeds

1½ lbs fingerling potatoes

½ cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

2 medium delicata squashes (about 2½ lbs)

2 tbsp minced shallot

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp champagne vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

8 oz baby arugula

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1 cup shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Position rack in center of oven and heat to 425 degrees. Cut potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slabs. Mound on large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp of the oil and ¼ tsp salt, and toss to coat evenly. Arrange in snug single layer and roast until just tender and starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

While potatoes are roasting, prepare squashes. Trim them, halve lengthwise, and scoop and discard seeds and strings. Slice into half-moons about 1⁄8 inch thick. Transfer to large bowl, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, and sprinkle on ¼ tsp salt. Toss gently to coat.

When potatoes are out of oven, line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment and arrange squash. Roast, rotating pans after 10 minutes, until slices are just starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Be sure not to overcook or squash will dry out. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

In small bowl, combine shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, and 1⁄8 tsp salt. Whisk to blend, and slowly drizzle in remaining olive oil, whisking vigorously. Just before serving, put potatoes and squash in large bowl and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss well with your hands, taste, and adjust vinegar, lemon juice, or salt if needed.

Add arugula, half the pomegranate seeds, and half the Parmigiano, and mix gently. To serve salad, sprinkle with remaining cheese and pomegranate seeds and a few grinds of pepper. Serves 4 to 6 as an entrée.

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