I see the beginning signs of fall in the neighborhood. I’ve snapped a few phone pics and sent them here and there to prove to my non CA friends and family that fall does in fact exist here in the Bay. It has to be my favorite time of year. Cooler weather, warm blankets, hot tea, long sleeves, well… you get the picture.
Fall also brings back memories for me. Memories of our old home in MA. Memories of friends and neighbors. Memories of good times. These days it’s much easier keeping in touch with old (and great) friends. I see them on facebook and see their kids growing and laughing and can keep up with the goings-on so easily.
This squash recipe was inspired by my friend and old neighbor, Lauren. She’s been on my mind lately. Not sure why but I saw these delicata squash in the store the other day and felt like I needed to make a spin off of the dish she made for me once.
The dish as I remember was such a surprise of flavors. Spicy, sweet, tangy all packed in a smooth bite. Woah. It was so complex and obviously made an impression.
So these little squash are pretty popular this time of year. I used two average sized ones for this recipe. The great thing about this variety is you can eat the skin. Just make sure to rinse well before cooking. Also, scoop the seeds but keep them as they make perfect snacks once roasted.
The squash are fairly thin once the seeds are scooped so cooking time is pretty minimal. I think these guys took about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. When I cook squash I usually put them face down on a cookie sheet and use the fork test method. It takes a few times but you get used to testing the softness of the squash with a fork to tell if it is done cooking. The skin is also a good indicator. It should start to turn brown in areas but not burn.
Once the squash is perfect “fork ready”, I remove them from the oven and flip them over. I enjoy the slightly burnt edges but if this is not your preference, you could add an inch or so of water to your pan as they cook to prevent the browning.
As the squash are cooking, I mix up my “butter” (I use a vegan type), cilantro, maple syrup, cayenne, and lime juice to make the perfect sauce for these squash boats. Remember those seeds? After the “butter” sauce is made and the oven is still on I rinse the seeds of the squash that were scooped out and sprinkle them with season salt. I spread them thinly on a cooking sheet and slide them right in with the squash to cook for about 5 minutes. These seeds are smaller than pumpkin seeds so you need to watch them carefully. They are quick to burn…yes, I can tell you from experience. But I can also tell you that they are delicious if cooked correctly.
After the squash are out of the oven, I gently run a fork down the inside of the squash to loosen the flesh so the sauce will mix throughout. Then I top the boats with the crunchy seeds that were roasted with season salt. It makes for the perfect amount of crunch with creamy, spicy and tart.
This is a dish that is great right out of the oven. I actually ate it twice in one day though. The second time I heated it back up in the microwave and it tasted just as great. The recipe makes four halves but can easily be adjusted to make more or less.
So, welcome fall, good bye summer! I’m looking forward to enjoying the vegetables of the season but also creating some new memories. Even though I can’t enjoy a cup of tea with my dear friend Lauren, I’ll be thinking about her this season and I’ll be sharing her inspiration. XOXO
This recipe is quite easy but offers a complex array of flavors and textures. Perfect for a special side dish to a fall gathering but easy enough for a quick solo meal while in the middle of a project. Let me know how it goes. Would love to see your pictures and comments!