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.
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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
- 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
- 1/4 cup / 60 mL heavy cream
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 200 degrees Celsius / Gas 6.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve immediately. Serves 4.