I love winter squash. It can go sweet or savory, light or heavy, creamy or chunky. I love that I can buy winter squash on a whim with no plan, and it can sit on the counter for weeks until I’m ready to use it, remaining just as fresh as it was the day I bought it. With all its versatility, I could find a use for winter squash at every meal — if only I had the time to prepare it.
I fell in love way back in college when I found myself eating at the first home-grown restaurant I’d ever been to. Eastside Cafe (in Austin, TX) grew its own produce right outside the back doors of the building (and I hear now they have chickens!). I’ll never forget this dish — baked acorn squash with a sesame ginger glaze — it was like dessert as a side dish. At the time, I had never even heard of acorn squash, much less did I have any confidence whatsoever that I’d be able to replicate something resembling this dish at home.
Fast forward 10 years and here I am, still in love with winter squash and trying new healthy recipes with the different varieties all the time. (Check out this super thorough round up of all the winter squashes and the easiest and best ways to prepare them.)
I have to be honest though. Sometimes preparing winter squash can feel like a lot of effort — pumpkins can be hard to cut through, butternut squash takes forever to cut and peel (and it rolls all over the cutting board), and you always have to clean out the seeds, which can be a mess. But this year, I discovered a new variety of winter squash: the beautifully easy-to-work-with delicata squash provides all the wonderful pleasures of a winter squash with virtually zero hassle. No need to peel, easy to slice open long-ways and chop into pieces, and easy to clean by simply scraping a spoon down the center — I love this squash! You can do a lot with it, although before this exciting creation, I’d only tried a simple roast in the oven.
In 5 easy steps, I give you a healthy recipe for a side dish that will impress your palate and that of the guests you host: slice, scrape, chop, season, toss, roast, DONE!
- 1 medium-sized delicata squash
- 2 tbs EVO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 3 tbs finely grated dried unsweetened coconut
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp pinch red pepper flake
- 1/2 tsp ground pink Himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Cut the squash in half long-ways and scoop out the seeds
- Slice 1/2-inch thick pieces all the way down (it make sense to cut the smaller ends thicker and the larger ends thinner for even cooking, so that they’re all about the same mass and bake evenly)
- In a large zip-lock freezer bag, toss squash and all other ingredients until well-coated (make sure there are no holes in the bag … you’ll be sad if there are)
- Lay squash flat on baking surface (I used a ceramic baking dish, but I’m not sure if it makes a difference)
- Bake on 400 for 30 minutes. No need to turn them over
- Enjoy — and eat the peel, it’s good for you! (more fiber, more phytonutrients)