Saturday, October 28, 2017

Carpe Delicata: Vegan Roasted Delicata Squash with Leeks, Pine Nuts, and Kale

Michel recently decided to try delicata squash for the first time. The results were so good that he made the dish a second time within the same week. The growing season for Cucurbita pepo 'Delicata' varies by location (duh), hence his urgency to recreate the recipe before the delicata variety disappears from local markets. As of this afternoon, it was still available at our usual haunt, Paul's Fruit Market. 

What’s so delicate about delicata squash? It is easier to work with than acorn, butternut, etc., because it doesn’t require peeling. Its green-striped rind is edible, unlike its less cooperative relatives (unless you unknowingly buy an indurate lookalike masquerading as a delicata squash and you are tempted to use a power saw to slice it—not that we would know anything about such an incident). So here a caveat emptor would be in order; make sure the squash you select from those ubiquitous autumnal displays is edible and not ornamental.

You might be wondering if such a creamy-sweet and obliging fruit (yes, fruit, because veggies don’t have seeds) can possibly be a healthful food choice. Here’s a quick overview courtesy of  

Nutrients? Yes. High in vitamins A and C.
Minerals? Yes. Iron and calcium.
Calories? Low. One ¾ cup serving contains a mere 30 calories.
Carbs? Also low. Only 7 grams per ¾ cup serving.
Fat? Zero. Now we’re talking.

Ready to try it?

Michel’s recipe requires only a few ingredients and yields a generous main dish for two or an ample side dish for more.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

You will need:

1 large delicata squash
2 leeks
5-6 kale stems
¼ cup pine nuts
5-6 garlic cloves
olive oil

To season/coat* the squash slices for roasting:

ground chipotle or red pepper flakes—whatever you like
agave nectar
olive oil

First, the delicata squash.

Wash and slice lengthwise into halves.
Scoop out the seeds (which can be saved for toasting if you’re into that kind of thing).

Slice crosswise into ¾ inch pieces.

To season the squash slices for roasting:

*A cautionary/explanatory word re. this step: Michel doesn’t measure when he cooks. He tastes and tweaks until he gets the result he wants. You might want to approach this seasoning component in the same way you’d put together a salad dressing or similar mixture. Also, he’s no longer sure what’s in his go-to jar of mixed ground peppers (below). His response to my question about this: “It’s just a whole bunch of different peppers.”  If you’re confused, (a) I’m sorry, (b) please see my post about Michel’s way of measuring ingredients when he cooks, and (c) I’m afraid you’re on your own here.

In a plastic container or mixing bowl, combine the following ingredients to taste:

·      Olive oil
·      Ground cinnamon
·      Ground chipotle or red pepper flakes or whatever pepper you prefer
·      Kosher salt
·      Agave nectar

Add squash slices and stir just enough to get an even coating.

Place seasoned slices on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes.

And now the vegetables.

Slice leeks into ¼ pieces.

Chop garlic cloves. 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet.

Add leeks and garlic and allow to cook down for a few minutes.
Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. 

Add pine nuts, stir, and continue cooking over medium heat.


Remove kale leaves from stems, wash and chop into bite-size pieces.

Add ½ the chopped kale to leek mixture, allowing it to wilt a bit.

Add remaining kale and reduce heat.

Remove roasted squash from the oven when done. 

Add to the cooked vegetables and dig in.

That’s it.