I post so many food photos, people assume I cook all the time. In reality, I don’t have nearly enough time in the kitchen. As committed as I am to eating healthy home-cooked foods, sometimes I take shortcuts (or make reservations). But shortcuts don’t have to be processed or unhealthy. Delicata squash is an example. Have you ever shied away from using butternut squash because it’s a bear to cut up and peel? Delicata squash is small and manageable and best of all doesn’t require peeling. What? Sold to the crazy food blogger who has more love for squash than time to prepare it.
If you’re not familiar with delicata, grab a couple next time you see them at the store or farmers market. They are similar in color to butternut when you cut them open, but a bit milder in flavor. The Happy Boy Farms web site described the flavor as almost hinting of sweet corn. They also recommend buying them earlier in the season than later as their shelf life is not quite as long as other squashes. Having said that, you can easily leave them in your fruit bowl on the counter for a couple of weeks. I find that incredibly convenient.
Influenced by my Tasting Jerusalem virtual cooking community as well as a post I just wrote for October Unprocessed, I decided to combine date syrup and pomegranate molasses along with olive oil to glaze the squash and then roast it. And for a terrific hit of flavor, color, and texture, top the roasted squash with fresh pomegranate seeds to finish.
Date and pomegranate syrups are available at your local Middle Eastern market or can be ordered online. If you have trouble obtaining either of them, you can use maple syrup instead of the date, and balsamic vinegar instead of the pomegranate molasses.
This dish can be served warm out of the oven or at room temperature and would look just lovely on a holiday buffet spread.
What’s your favorite healthy shortcut for getting dinner on the table mid-week?
- 1 delicata squash (about 12 – 15 oz)
- 1 tablespoon of date syrup (or maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Optional: Aleppo pepper or any spicy red pepper to taste
- fresh pomegranate seeds (dried cranberries would be lovely too)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice the delicata squash down the center vertically, remove the seeds (you can toast these like pumpkin seeds if you want), and cut each half into half moons. You do not need to remove the skin. It is completely edible.
- In a small bowl whisk together the date syrup, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Place the squash moons on a cookie sheet or parchment-lined cookie sheet then pour the date mixture over the squash and mix it around until the pieces are coated fairly evenly. If you want a hint of spiciness, sprinkle on some Aleppo pepper (a mild turkish red pepper or any red pepper that you prefer) and then pop it in the oven.
- Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, then turn the squash moons and bake for 7 minutes more.
- While the squash is roasting, cut open your pomegranate to release about a ⅓ cup of seeds. Use as much or as little as you like – this does not have to be precise.
- Remove the squash from the oven and sprinkle the fresh pomegranate seeds all over to finish the dish. If you place the squash on a nice serving dish and then sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top, it will make a beautiful presentation. You can also eat this at room temperature. So think about this for your Thanksgiving buffet or any fall dinner – it’s an easy dish to prepare ahead and serve.