Thursday, 19 September 2013 | 29 comments

Baked delicata squash with cream & parmigiano

The weeds win out, this time of year. At some point we just start harvesting and stop weeding, and nature, which errs on the side of fecund around here, takes over.I’ve been thinking a lot about perception of seasonality. I’m happy that seasonal is trendy. But if we believed what magazine covers seem to tell us, every plant just ceases to bear summer fruit come September and we go straight into pumpkins. These transition periods are beautifully nuanced, though–a time of year where you can have fresh tomatoes on the same plate as fresh cabbage—and they’re different every year. The whole point of eating seasonally, after all, is that you’re eating what’s being currently produced, rather than declaring a moratorium on particular foods just because of the calendar date. This year, I can buy delicata squash at the market, while my garden offers up the last tomatoes.I don’t talk very much here about cookbooks, mostly because I’m terribly picky and can’t wholesale recommend too many of them. But on a tip from a friend, I picked up Domenica Marchetti’s new The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, and I’m willing to vouch for it. So many cookbooks are either what I consider “project books” (meaning I can only use them once in awhile) or their recipes are so workday that they’re almost boring. But Domenica’s book is both unusually inspiring and useful, a veritable tome (over 100) of veggie-centric (but not strictly vegetarian) recipes that have me bookmarking left and right (Roasted wax beans with feta and herbs! Warm citrus scented olives with ricotta salata! Smashed green beans and potatoes with pancetta!) This delicata squash recipe caught my eye because it is so different from my go-to way to prepare squash in the oven (high heat, olive oil, salt, pepper)—the only fat you use is a drizzle of heavy cream. The result is both lighter tasting and richer at the same time. Best of all, because delicata requires no peeling and the recipe is so simple, it comes together very quickly. Enjoy the summer-to-autumn fade, friends—it’ll be full-fledged fall before you know it.
. . . .
A note about photos: My camera battery charger just died, so instead of my normal camera, I took these with a circa 2004 digital Olympus camera that Ben dug up and has been using for snapshots lately. Besides being really fun, it just reminded me—because so many of you write and ask what camera I use—you really don’t need a fancy camera to take photos that tell a story. Also, a lot of the color filters or effects that are so popular nowadays are achievable just by using a less technically precise camera! This little guy has 4 megapixels, less a lot of smartphones. It looks like this.

Baked delicata squash with cream & parmigiano

From Domenica Marchetti’s book, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, reprinted with permission of the author

You’ll need

  1. 2 delicata or acorn squashes (2 1/2 pounds to 3 pounds / 1.2 to 1.4 kg), halved lengthwise, seeded, each half cut in half crosswise to yield a total of four pieces per squash
  2. 1/4 cup / 60 mL heavy cream
  3. Fine sea salt
  4. Freshly ground black pepper
  5. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  6. 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 200 degrees Celsius / Gas 6.
  2. Arrange the pieces of squash, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet or in a large baking dish. Drizzle the heavy cream on the squash pieces or use a pastry brush to spread it around. Season with a little salt and a few grindings of pepper. Sprinkle a little nutmeg over each piece (I grate the nutmeg directly over the pieces), and then sprinkle on the Parmigiano.
  3. Bake the squash for 30 to 40 minutes if using delicata squash, or 45 minutes if using acorn squash. Baste the squash once or twice during baking. The squash is done when the cream is thickened and lightly browned and the flesh is tender and easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
  4. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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§ 29 responses to Baked delicata squash with cream & parmigiano

  • I totally agree with everything!

    One of my biggest pet peeves: “What camera do you use?” Derp.

    On the topic of cookbooks promoting seasonal produce, what do you think of Deborah Madison? I had a copy of Everyday Vegetarian Recipes and quite enjoyed it, but ultimately gave it away to friends when I moved out. I’d also like to read An Everlasting Meal — I hear it’s worthwhile.

    • I have probably cooked more Deborah Madison recipes than anything else in my life. She’s featured on this blog more than anyone else, in terms of recipe proportion, I think. Local Flavors = the best. –S

  • I love the simplicity to this! Gorgeous!

  • “you really don’t need a fancy camera to take photos that tell a story”

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Delicata is my favorite and I have never prepared it anything like this. Can’t wait to try it – thanks for the recipe, and for the book recommendation too.

  • I love the fact she uses nutmeg. Just a little sprinkle. Made me want to read the entire book!

  • Caroline

    I think that it’s funny that you find a circa-2004 camera to be laughably outdated. 2004! That was just a few years ago, four years more recent than the start of the new millennium, which seemed like just yesterday. I recently captured a trip to Portland with a circa-1998 camera that I had last used to document my summer adventure as a teenager in the Youth Conservation Corps at Yellowstone National Park in 2005. It was hilarious to develop the forgotten roll of film and then look back, through gorgeous pictures, on those days.

    Yes, many cookbooks are not broadly useful. The library, thus, is a useful lender of cookbooks. I’d like to know what your theme for a cookbook would be, if you were to write one.

  • hooray to eating seasonally!! and thank you for the tip on this cookbook!!

  • Even though I am overly excited with pumpkins I totally agree about the time to ease into that season. Right now our tomatoes are ending but there is still a few weeks to pick, the cucumbers are still growing furiously and so many pickles are to be made and the strawberries are still giving me enough to snack on for breakfast.

  • I couldn’t agree more about the summer-to-autumn “fade”. It’s my absolute time of year, food-wise, fresh peppers and tomatoes are still in abundance at our farmers’ market, and I like to slow down and savor it as long as possible. I usually hold off on the hard squash for a while, since I know I’ll be eating them all winter long, but when I do break them out I’d love to give this a try.

  • I picked up yesterday’s CSA right before I read this post. Its contents included two acorn squash and a bag of yellow wax beans. Sadly, no delicata, and now you’ve gotten me excited for when they come into the market. I scoured the internet for that wax bean, herbs and feta dish, but no luck. I decided to wing it and tossed the cleaned beans with the herbs I had on hand: rosemary, sage and thyme, added a few glugs of olive oil, a few pinches of salt, crumbled a bit of feta, gave it a good toss, and stuck it in a 400F oven for about 25 minutes. I think they could have gone longer — the beans would have been nicer if they’d all gotten brown and blistery. Just curious if I was anywhere close with the herbs choice.

    • You were pretty spot on—the recipe says you can use any coarsely chopped fresh herbs, but suggests mint, basil, and oregano, though. She also adds some garlic.

  • The affirmation of seasonal as ‘The whole point of eating seasonally, after all, is that you’re eating what’s being currently produced, rather than declaring a moratorium on particular foods just because of the calendar date’ is exactly what the entire world needs to hear. I am overrun with tomatoes, thanks to a late season heat wave that made them simply burst from the stems. Given that we’ve just crossed over in to Fall, the last month of pumpkin everything has my teeth itching. And Delicata roasted with a few slices of fresh tomato laid on top of it is a stellar crossover of seasons.

  • Sarah, what a lovely post. And thank you for the kind words about my book. This is one of my favorite times of year to be in the kitchen for the very reason that there is both summer and fall produce available. I happen to be on the West Coast at the moment and had the opportunity to go to the Portland (OR) farmers’ market on Saturday. Talk about an abundance of glorious vegetables. They were practically throwing chanterelle mushrooms at you there were so many! Plus peaches and apples, tomatoes and pumpkins, beans, beans and more beans. I’m glad you enjoyed the delicata squash recipe. Cheers, D

  • Susan

    Scrumptious! Last night’s dinner included a delicata made as per your recipe. I’m eyeing the buttercup speculatively now… certainly it would work with them too? Might have to apply the cream & cheese later in roasting process? Hmmm…!

  • Americans always want what they can’t have before it starts! Lol. But when the weather starts to get down into the 30s and 40s at night, I have trouble with sweet corn, but I’ll never say no to home grown tomatoes.

    I’m so happy you enjoyed “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” because I’m tempted to get it and I wasn’t sure. Although I still haven’t bought Deborah Madison’s “Vegetable Literacy” yet either, so there you have it.

    Out of curiosity – did you just eat the squash by itself? Or did you serve it with something else, too?

  • Katy

    I was so excited to see this post; not only do I agree wholeheartedly about cameras, but this squash recipe also seems so simple and elegant. The Glorious Vegetables is a lovely book. I recently made the tomato marmalade from it and it was a great way of celebrating the season. Now I’m eager to try more, especially this squash.

  • Katie C.

    I love delicata squash but around here, it’s only available in a small window of time in the early fall. I have found that you can microwave it with good results when you are in a hurry. Cut it in half and seed it, smear on some Smart Balance, sprinkle with Mrs. Dash or seasoned salt, put in a microwave safe dish (I use an 9″ pyrex square), add a little water to the dish, balance a plate over the top and microwave until fork tender.

  • I just discovered your lovely website via today’s 101 Cookbooks post and I just wanted to say how happy I am to find you. Coincidentally, I just picked up The Glorious Vegetables of Italy from the library today. I’ve had a hold request on it since I was fortunate enough to attend an author event & cooking demo Ms. Marchetti did a month or so back. She made the Minestrone Soup, Eggplant Meatballs, and Carrot Cake- all of which were wonderful. The book is visually stunning and I too have gone a little bookmark crazy with it. It looks like this will be the first recipe I’ll be making. I take my blog pics with a cheap cell phone =) Your work is inspiring. Thanks!

  • Linda

    Would 1/2 and 1/2 work in place of the heavy cream???

    THANKS..

  • Great find! Used Greek yogurt. Old woman, old man loved it. Thanks.

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