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Delicata Squash

Did Lisa worry about her wedding gown, the flower arrangements or the last-minute changes to the seating arrangements at her wedding? No. She worried whether or not Delicata Squash would be available in SoCal in early October for the wedding feast. That's Our Girl.

Delicata (Cucurbita pepo) is an easy-to-work-with, super-versatile creamy-fleshed squash, with the best benefit of not having to be peeled - and the outer skin is edible. Yes! Think of all that nutrition.

Though considered a winter squash, Delicata is more closely related to summer squashes (like Zucchini), and due to the thinner skin, do not store as well as other winter squashes (like Butternut). A ripe Delicata squash will be yellow (pale green when unripe). One cup of Delicata is only 40 calories, fat-free, sodium-free, and is loaded potassium and vitamins A and C.

Delicata is also reasonably inexpensive. I bought a 1.3 pound organic squash for $1.89; Trader Joe has conventional Delicata for 99 cents each. Get 'em while you can.

I feel the best way to enjoy a Delicata (or any) squash is to oven-roast the flesh, tossed in a little olive oil or melted butter - and in this recipe, I used sliced Delicata as a "roasting rack" for chicken thighs.

Ready for the oven

I made a sauce with:
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 cloves minced garlic

...then tossed the sauce (it made about 1/2 cup) over half-moon sliced Delicata and four chicken thighs (with bones and skin; about 1.5 pounds). I let the squash and chicken marinate for several hours, then placed the squash evenly in the bottom of a baking dish, arranged the chicken on top, drizzled the marinade over all, and baked at 375° for 45 minutes. The key is to slice the squash about 1/4-inch, as thicker slices would require a longer roasting time than the chicken... and nobody likes crunchy squash.

The result was a sweet-and-sour-and-savory dish that would serve four people. The dinner was delicious, nutritious and inexpensive. I also served tossed greens.

Pick up a Delicata squash this week!

You may also like:
Delicata Squash and Roasted Mushrooms with Thyme
Baked Delicata with Cream and Parmigiano
Several Delicata recipes from Heidi Swanson
More squash ideas from Bon Appetit Magazine

Until my next update, I remain, your squashed correspondent.