It can be challenging to work with winter squash. For example, kabocha squash is difficult to wrangle, butternut squash is hard to cut up, and acorn squash seems impossible to peel. However, working with delicious delicata squash is easy compared to these other winter squashes.
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Delicata squash is oblong, making it straightforward for working with. Moreover, the white and green striated skin is edible and thin, so you don’t have to peel delicata squash. Delicata squash varies in weight, but most of the time, this squash is medium in size, so you can work with it using a basic chef’s knife.
Whether you want to make stuffed delicata squash, or you want to dice or slice this squash for salads and recipes, you can make roasted delicata squash that is tender and sweet.
Why This Method of Preparing Roasted Delicata Squash Works
There are three reasons this simple roasted delicata squash recipe works well.
- Squash slices need plenty of room around them on the baking pan so that they brown evenly. If the slices are too crowded, they’ll become steamed squashed and will fail to caramelize.
- To make sure you get even browning, you can arrange your delicata squash slices all around the baking pan’s perimeter. Then, rotating the baking pan halfway through the cooking time allows for better browning.
- This delicata squash recipe calls for roasting the slices of squash in unsalted butter instead of coconut oil, olive oil, or canola oil. The butter brings out the delicately nutty and sweet flavor of delicata squash. The butter also gives the squash a wonderfully creamy interior.
What to Look for to Find the Best Delicata Squash
The most important factor when it comes to finding the best delicata squash is to shop when the squash is in season. Depending on where you live, the window for buying winter squash or autumn squash is fairly short. In regions of the northeastern U.S., for example, delicata squash is in season at the end of summer, and it stays seasonal into the early stages of winter.
While delicata squash can vary in terms of weight, you can usually find the perfect size if you spend some time shopping around. Ideally, squashes that weigh about four ounces are ideal, but you can also find delicata squash that weighs up to two pounds each. For most roasted delicata squash recipes, you should try to find medium-sized squash that weighs about one pound apiece.
When shopping for your delicata squash for roasting, look for squash that is similar in body shape. This will ensure that the squash slices will cook evenly and uniformly. Avoid delicata squash, acorn squash, or butternut squash with visible mold, soft spots, or bruises.
Tips for Storing Delicata Squash
One of the best things about all types of winter squash is that you don’t have to keep them in the fridge. Instead, you can store your delicata squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash in a dry, cool place.
One thing to do to ensure your delicata squash doesn’t rot is to store them on a surface that offers adequate circulation. For example, you can keep them on a wire shelf, a colander, or in a metal basket.
The Best Way to Roast Delicata Squash
Most importantly, you need to carefully wash your squash because for delicata squash, you get to eat the skins, which are full of nutrients. After you wash your delicata squash, dry it thoroughly. This will keep the squash from being slippery when you’re cutting it. It will also keep water from pooling up on your cutting board.
To cut your delicata squash, you can use any good knife. However, we recommend a high-quality chef’s knife that’s nice and sharp. A knife with an 8-inch blade is the perfect size for cutting delicata squash.
To cut your delicata squash, stand it up on the cut side that’s largest. This side is more perfectly flat. Once your squash is standing up, slice it neatly lengthwise down the center. Then, you’ll have two beautiful halves that are nice and even.
Lay your squash halves onto your cutting board and use a large soup spoon for removing the fibrous flesh and seeds that are stuffed into both of the halves. Once you have removed and discarded the fibrous flesh and seeds, turn the squash halves over onto your cutting board so that the cut side is facing down. Be sure you have plenty of room in your kitchen area to work without encumbrance.
You can use a ruler to mark 1-inch increments down the side of both of the squash halves. Then, use your chef’s knife to slice crosswise across each squash half. Cut the slices into slices that are 1 inch thick. You can make this delicata squash recipe with smaller slices, but they will shiver up. A smaller delicata squash slice will become dry and cook up too small. Slices that are 3/4 inch thick will cook up fairly well, but the optimal size slices are 1 inch thick.
Be sure you have plenty of room between the delicata squash slices on your baking pan. If the slices are to close together, they won’t have room to brown and caramelize. Instead, you’ll end up with steamed delicata squash. This is also delicious, of course, but you’re trying to cook roasted delicata squash, not steamed delicata squash.
The Temperature to Use for Making Roasted Delicata Squash
In many ways, roasting delicata squash is similar to cooking starch root and tuber veggies, including sweet potato dishes. However, for delicata squash, the natural sweetness in the fruit doesn’t need help. It’s plenty sweet on its own. Rather, the goal is to get the squash to caramelize and deliver all of that wonderful natural sweet flavor.
If you roast your squash at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the “slow and low” method,” the inside of the squash will become chalky instead of creamy. Moreover, the browning won’t be the same. Instead, roasted delicata squash ends up with perfect tenderness and browning when you cook it with quick, high-heat exposure.
Ideally, you want your delicata squash to be in the oven for as little time as needed for it to become brown, soft, and caramelized. When it stays in the oven for less time, the squash will have a creamy smooth interior texture.
For this delicata squash recipe, it really does matter where you place your oven rack. In your oven, move the prepared baking sheet to the lowest position. It’s just not the same if you bake your stuffed delicata squash recipe in the middle or upper rack. Also, don’t line your baking pan with foil or parchment paper. It does best on a bare cooking pan because it becomes browner.
The way you place your squash slices on the pan also matters. We recommend placing the squash slices around the perimeter of the baking sheet so that they become perfectly browned. Avoid the center of the baking sheet. This results in squash that gets unevenly cooked.
Equally important, rotate the cooking pan halfway through the roasting time. This way, all the squash slices are evenly browned.
Use This Fat to Make Roasted Delicata Squash
We have tested this recipe with different types of fat, including olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, and coconut oil (a saturated fat). The best fat to use is unsalted butter. While the other oils get the squash slices brown, nothing does as well as the butter. Also, butter really brings out the nutty and sweet notes of the squash better than the other oils and fats we tried. Even with butter, this is still a healthy recipe.
Also, the squash slices absorb butter better than they do the other fats we worked with. You will also notice a creamier texture to your squash when you use butter. Olive oil makes the squash’s skin brittle, and that messes with the flavor.
For even more sweetness, you can modify this recipe to include maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar. Maple roasted delicata squash is delicious. Sprinkling the squash with parmesan cheese, panko mixture (before cooking), or crumbled goat cheese is also yummy. Other ideas include rosemary roasted delicata squash, and you can modify this recipe to make roasted acorn squash with fresh thyme or other fresh herbs. Want a roasted vegetables fusion meal? Try a sweet potato squash roast with roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted carrots.
If you have leftovers, consider making delicata squash tacos or delicata squash salad. We love these for alternative Thanksgiving recipes.
Storage and Make-Ahead for Roasted Delicata Squash
You can serve roasted squash cold, at room temperature, or hot. As a cold meal or side dish, roasted delicata squash salad is delicious. You can also reheat roasted delicata squash with some butter in a heavy skillet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What methods can be used to cook delicata squash?
There are several methods for cooking delicata squash. You can roast it in the oven, sauté it on the stovetop, or steam it in a pressure cooker or microwave. Each method results in a slightly different texture, but all are delicious and easy to achieve.
How to prepare a savory delicata squash dish?
To prepare a savory delicata squash dish, start by preheating your oven to 400°F (205°C). Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and slice into thin half-moons. Toss the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread it out on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized. You can also add herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage for more flavor.
What are some healthy delicata squash recipes?
Healthy delicata squash recipes focus on utilizing wholesome ingredients and cooking methods that retain the squash’s nutritional benefits. Some options include roasted delicata squash with maple syrup and pecans, stuffed delicata squash with quinoa and vegetables, or a delicata squash and kale salad.
What are quick and easy delicata squash dishes?
For a quick delicata squash dish, try sautéing slices in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes for about 10 minutes. Another option is to microwave the squash by cutting it into half-moons, placing it in a microwave-safe dish, adding a bit of water, and microwaving for 5-8 minutes until tender.
Can you eat the skin and seeds of a delicata squash?
Yes, the skin of a delicata squash is thin and edible, making it an enjoyable part of the dish. The seeds can also be eaten, but it’s best to roast them first to achieve a crispy texture. To roast the seeds, rinse and dry them thoroughly, then toss with olive oil and your choice of seasoning. Bake at 300°F (150°C) for 20-30 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
What are the best storage tips for delicata squash?
To store uncooked delicata squash, keep it in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. It should last for about a month. Once cut, store the unused portions in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Cooked squash should also be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within 3-5 days.
Easy Roasted Delicata Squash Recipe
- You need these basic kitchen essentials to make roasted delicata squash recipes.
- Kitchen tongs or tweezers
- Heavy-duty baking sheet with a rim
- 2 pounds delicata squash about 2 medium squash, washed thoroughly and dried
- 2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- Place the oven rack in its lowest position, then preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare the delicata squash by trimming off both ends. Stand the individual squashes up on their larger cut sides. Use a chef's knife to slice the delicata squash lengthwise through the squash's center. This will create two squash halves that are even.
- Use a large soup spoon to scrape the fibrous flesh and seeds out of the squash. Discard the fibrous flesh and seed mixture. Follow this same process with all of the other squash.
- Lay the squash halves down on a cutting board with the uncut side facing up. Use the chef's knife to cut the squash into crosswise slices that are 1 inch thick.
- Transfer the squash slices to a bowl. Add the kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and melted butter to the bowl and use a large spoon or pastry brush to coat the slices of squash evenly.
- Place the squash slices onto your baking pan, and arrange them around the cooking sheet's perimeter. Leave an even space between the individual slices.
- Roast the slices of squash for about 12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown in color. Remove the pan from the oven. Using the kitchen tongs, flip the squash slices. Rotate the baking pan about 180 degrees and place it back in the oven. Roast the squash slices for 10 additional minutes.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven and use a spatula to transfer the squash to a large platter. Sprinkle with more salt and black pepper as desired.