We understand if winter squash has been on your “avoid” list — you practically need an axe to pry it open. But there’s no need to give up on these beta-carotene bombs entirely; there’s a thin-skinned, quick-cooking option and her name is Delicata. Shaped more like a mini football than a turban or a pumpkin, the delicata squash usually comes in shades of deep yellow, frequently accented with very stylish hunter green stripes. Unlike its cousin the acorn squash, the delicata actually has flavor, a delightful mash-up of corn and sweet potatoes.
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 cup Bhutanese red rice (Plan B: long-grain Wehani; cooking times and liquid amounts may vary)
- 3 to 4 delicata squash (about 1 pound each)
- ⅛ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped (Other options: walnuts, almonds, or pecans)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
- Zest of ½ lemon or orange, plus 1 or 2 squeezes of the juice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground chile pepper of choice
Tools: Parchment paper
Kitchen notes: There’s enough filling for eight servings (one squash half per person). For a party of six, you’ll have more than a cup of remaining filling, which you can bring to the table.
Here’s What You Do:
- Bring the water and the rice to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook at a simmer, 20 to 25 minutes. The rice will be done when water is absorbed and grains are tender to the bite.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim both ends of each squash and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and the attached pulp. Brush both sides of the squash with the olive oil, and season the inside to taste with salt and pepper.
- Roast until easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes, and remove from the oven. Lower the oven heat to 350°F.
- While the squash roasts, make the filling: Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and add the ⅛ cup of olive oil, and the parsley, nuts, dried fruit, fennel seeds, ginger, citrus zest, and chile pepper. Stir until the rice is coated with the oil and the mixture is well mixed. Add the ¼ teaspoon of salt, stir, taste, and re-season if necessary.
- Fill each squash-half with about ¼ cup of the filling. Return to the oven and heat for about 15 minutes, until the rice is warmed through.
- Serve immediately, or lower the oven temperature to 225°F, cover with foil, and hold until ready to serve.
This recipe also originally appeared online at Kimodonnel.com