Fall is here and so is Winter Squash Season! It should be an official designation because as so as the leaves change famers markets and grocery stores begin to fill up with winter squash. There is always a big bin of wonderful winter squash in our market and I bring quite a few home. Many of them that have hard skins, like Hubbard, and will last the whole winter but the Delicata which are discussing today is softer so it must be used within a few weeks.
Delicata is so easy to prepare as it does not need to be peeled; it has a softer skin which can be eaten. You can peel it easily if you prefer. It has a flavorful flesh that is not overly sweet. It cooks up faster than many winter squash making it ideal for weekday dinners. It can be sliced and sautéed in olive oil with a drizzle of maple syrup if you want to play up the sweet notes or served plain with a little salt and pepper.It can be mixed into various grain dishes like farro or risotto. It can be cut up and roasted with various glazes or herbs like sage and rosemary. It can be halved and baked and filled with quinoa or farro or bulgar or a savory meat mixture like our recipe today. I choose this meat filling tonight because some of the people at my table were not too sure if they would like delicata squash and they were more meat lovers. Next time I really want to try it with bulgar, spinach and tomato.
It is a truly fall dish as delicata is harder to find in the stores outside of its fall harvest time. Delicatas were not grown much after the 1930’s due to being susceptible to squash diseases. It has made a comeback after the early 2000’s when a disease resistant variety was cultivated. I could see delicatas becoming more popular like its cousins the acorn or butternut .
Our first winter squash recipe of the year is very verstatile and easy to make. It can be prepared ahead and baked for 20 -25 minutes just before eating so it is perfect for week nights.
Baked Delicata Squash filled with Ground Beef, Onion and Tomato
1 lb. ground beef 93% lean, or lean ground turkey or chicken or vegetarian substitute
1 medium red onion, peeled, trimmed, cut in half and sliced vertically
1 15 oz. or so can diced tomatoes
3+ cloves of garlic (or the garlic paste or minced jar equivalent)
1 tsp Italian herbs
½ tsp oregano or other herb of choice, optional
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Onion powder
¼ tsp red pepper flake, optional
1 tsp salt (to taste)
Black pepper to taste
Grated parmesan or other cheese for garnish
Preheat oven to 375.
Wash delicata squash and cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seed.
In a rectangle baking dish, pre bake squash, uncovered, cut side down in ½ or so water.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes till slightly soft. (You may refrigerate these for use later.)
In a wide pan, begin to brown ground meat. Once it is just nicely browned on the outside, add onion. After a few minutes add seasoning, garlic and cook until meat is barely done and onion is soft. Add tomatoes and stir to combine. Taste and add more spice, herbs, salt or garlic if needed.
Turn the Delicata squash so the open side is up. Drain excess water from the baking dish. Fill the open space on the squash with meat mix and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes until squash is soft. Bake uncovered for 5 minutes more. You may add a bit of grated cheese before you return it to oven.
Recipe By Dinner with Denise