We’ve been keeping busy. Lots of early mornings, driving from trains to winery to long days in the office, and late nights. I haven’t had my hands on as much good fall seasonal stuff as I would have liked this year. There will be no cutesy photos of the chickens milling about some decorative pumpkins. As usual, I thought I would plant a fall garden two months ago. Ha. I’m learning big lessons about this, about how some seasons I really get to dig in to the good things, and some I just suck it up, keep my head down, and pay the bills.
Ben picked me up from a late train home the other day with two hot pizzas in the backseat. Do you know how good that feels? What a guy.
If Pinterest is any indication, though, there are a lot of people who rely less on pizza and are making time for all that good fall stuff, including this recipe I posted last year from Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy. I picked up a couple last week and went back to the book hoping for another, equally good rendition. I found this one.
The recipe is a classic Italian agrodolce preparation. Pretty simple, but really good. The fussiest part is lightly frying and flipping the squash to caramelize both sides. I used the white wine vinegar the recipe calls for, but I think it would really benefit from red wine or sherry vinegar. The caramelized sugars of the squash combined with the vinegar-brown sugar mix you toss in at the end coats everything in a gorgeous, tangy gloss. Domenica writes that squash prepared this way is as good as candy, and I mean, I’m not the right person to ask because I’d take something vinegary over candy most days, but I might agree.
Elsewhere: I collaborated with USPS Stamps (I know, it sounds unlikely…but their website is neat) on the release of some new stamps featuring American “celebrity chefs”. No Food Network stars here: these are beautiful portraits of Julia Child, James Beard, Joyce Chen, and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi. I jumped at the chance to profile the inimitable Edna Lewis. You can read the little essay I wrote here.
Sweet & sour delicata squash
- 1 pound delicata squash (I’ve found that delicatas average about one pound each, so you can count on one for this recipe unless it seems unusually small or large)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 tablespoon light brown or demerara sugar
- 3 tablespoons white wine, red wine, or sherry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh mint, chopped
- Trim the delicata squash on both ends. Halve lengthwise, and slice in 1/4-inch thick half moon slices.
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil with the garlic over medium-low heat, cooking it until it is fragrant but not at all browned. Press down on the garlic cloves with a spatula or wooden spoon to release their flavor. Remove the garlic.
- Arrange a layer of the squash slices in the heated oil. Cook, turning once or twice, until they are beginning to be golden, with some chestnut spots, on each side, but not mushy. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon or spatula and continue to work in batches until you’ve cooked all the squash slices this way.
- In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and sugar. Return the squash slices to the skillet and add the vinegar-sugar mix. Season with some salt an pepper, and carefully toss the squash in the mixture until it reduces and coats the slices. This won’t take long. Taste for salt and season more if necessary.Don’t agitate them too much, or else they’ll start to fall apart.
- You can serve the squash right away, but Marchetti suggests transferring it to a platter, covering it, allowing it to sit for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle, and serving at room temperature. It is good either way.
Scatter the chopped mint over the squash before serving.