Valley Bounty: Delicata Squash

Although delicata squash is considered a winter squash in agricultural and culinary terms, it is actually a variety of the species Cucurbita pepo and is more closely related to warm-weather squash varieties like zucchini, summer squash, and patty pan squash. Like these botanical siblings, delicata has a soft (one might say, “delicate”) edible exterior, making it much easier to work with in the kitchen than other winter squashes with tougher skins like acorn, butternut, or spaghetti. Local delicata are easy to find in the late fall and early winter at winter farmers’ markets, year-round farm stands, and retailers that buy from local farms—and if you’re participating in a fall or winter CSA, you probably already have a few in your kitchen.

If the thought of another plate of Thanksgiving leftovers is too much to take tonight, try slicing a delicata in half, scooping out the seeds (which can be roasted like pumpkin seeds if you want to save them), cutting into semi-circles, and roasting until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes at 425°F. Like many squashes, delicata is naturally a bit on the sweet side, so I’ll often toss it in something to complement that sweetness—balsamic vinegar for a hint of sourness, for example, or some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)