delicata squash

Entrée, Fall

BOWL PREP

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The crusts of a p&j. The butt of a burrito. The shards of Cleo’s egg that she ALWAYS asks for in the morning and barely eats. I hate wasting food, nor do I like making different meals at one time, so I often end up being the garbage disposal to the ends of my kids’ meals. Not dinner, but throughout the day, guilty. I went in to solve my own problem by taking my own advice. If I want to eat well through the day, I need to set myself up for success.

I have been using the same Pyrex containers for years. Maybe ten years? The glass is durable and, does not stain. I have a variety of sizes for all sorts of circumstances. So when they asked me to write a post about how I use them? No question, because it’s a product I am already using daily. When I am taking good care of myself and thinking ahead, and not wanting to eat butts of burritos, I meal prep. If I have food ready, or pieces that get me halfway towards a meal, I am much more likely to eat something well-rounded and filling than a bunch of snacks that still leave me wanting a meal.

These glass Pyrex containers have snap, air tight lids, so I can pop them in the freezer or fridge and not worry about things leaking. It keeps the food fresh longer, and also allows for an easy reheat. I can simply remove the lid and place the dish in my preheated toaster oven. You should not be putting plastic in the microwave - bad for the plastic, bad for the food, bad for you. If my leftovers are something I am not able to reheat on the stove-top, I lay a paper towel over the top and warm it in the microwave. The non-porous glass containers do not stain or smell from acidic products, are better on the environment and while they may be heavy to take on the go, it is a fair trade for how long they last and the whole fridge-to-oven reheat option.

On Sunday afternoon, I dedicated one hour to prep a few things that I knew would make for quicker meals during the week. This may look like a lot, but much of it is hands off. You layer the work. The squash roasts in the oven while you whiz up the pesto. I start the rice and lentils then shake up the vinaigrette and pull out pom seeds while they cook. My plan:

- prepared salad greens (kinds that can be eaten raw or cooked, such as kale and cabbage)

- cilantro pistachio/pepita pesto

- chili maple delicata squash (recipe below)

- pomegranate seeds

- steamed brown rice + lentil mixture

- dijon maple vinaigrette

This leaves me with two meal options that will take under 5 minutes to prepare from here: a big green salad with squash and pom seeds and nuts with the vinaigrette, or rice and lentil bowls, again with more squash, I can sauté some of the greens if I’d like, top with the pesto and then I can easily throw on a little cheese or avocado. The pasta dish that is linked for the cilantro pesto is also amazing and you are 80% of the way to that recipe with these prep pieces too! Use the delicata in place of the butternut and you just need to cook some noodles. The greens I packed are ones I like both in salads, and are not compromised when heated, so they can be either sautéed or dressed for the salad. Tender greens (like butter lettuce, spring mix, arugula) don’t keep as well for me after being washed and stored.

These prepared pieces lasted me the better part of the week for lunches and parts of dinner thanks to my Pyrex glass storage. I also started making a big batch of oats that can easily be reheated with a splash of almond milk, and these pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack. I’m reminded that I always want to keep my fridge stocked!

This post was sponsored by Pyrex. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting me in working with brands, so that we may continue to create content for you.


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Chili Maple Delicata Squash

The beautiful thing about delicata squash is that you can eat the thin skin, so it makes prep so much faster. I cut them in half, seed them, then cut into half moons, or just into coins, and spoon away the seeds from the center circle.

2 medium delicata squash

1 Tbsp. avocado or extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. maple syrup

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. chili powder

Preheat the oven to 425’ and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash into 1/2” half moons or rings, and remove the seeds. Place all the squash on the prepared sheet and drizzle on the oil, maple, salt and chili powder. Toss everything to coat and spread them in an even layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and browned in parts.

Remove to cool before storing.

They will keep for a week, stored in a covered container in the fridge.

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Appetizer, Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free

MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL

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My oven was down for a few days. Actually closer to a week... even longer if you consider it was only heating up to 300' - max. Something about the gas valve. I cook often, but it'd be dramatic and exaggerated to say I use my oven every day. I go on cooking binges but I can certainly get by without it for a week, no huge deal. From the moment the maintenance guy said he needed to order a part and to not use it in the meantime, all I could think about was what I NEEDED my oven for. We need another lemon loaf. I was out of granola. I've seen all these wonderful photos of homemade bread and while I've tried and failed before, I must try again, immediately. But since he said not to use it and I didn't want to risk the kitchen filling up with gas and blowing up, we kept meals simple and stovetop. I was dreaming up recipes yesterday and Hugh mentioned a theory about creativity actually thriving in confined parameters. Infinite freedom is too chaotic, there needs to be parameters whether it be money, time, space, a theme, lyrics etc. - constraint based creativity. With a bit of googling, turns out a number of people have written on creativity blooming within restriction versus a vast blank canvas. Twitter for example, the 140 character confinement that revolutionized social media.

Fast forward to today, and it seems that the oven hiatus pushed me to try new things. I didn't need to make granola or another lemon loaf. I actually needed to not make those things to get out of a rut. I finally bought a waffle iron after talking about it for two years and made my new favorite chocolate treat that I'll post next week. This all sounds like a complete "first world problem" but you catch my drift. I needed my oven to break down is what I'm trying to say. 

I've had a few delicata squash appetizers in the past few months that I can't get out of my head. One was back in Portland at Clyde Common, an understated pile of roasted delicata with a handful of greens, shaved parmesan and hazelnuts and another was generously bathed in brown butter and topped with crumbled amareti at Mozza. The squash pairs so perfectly with warm and sweet spices and the fact that you can eat the skin makes them that much more attractive. It's honestly past delicata squash time around here, they were gone in a blink. Just as I'd given up, promising to pay closer attention when fall rolls around again, I found a few lonesome ones at a market I don't often frequent. I hope you can find some near you, but some chunks of butternut or kabocha can work here just fine. A warm salad, a side dish, a whole meal if you'd like with the addition of some lentils or a poached egg. I will add some toasted hazelnuts next time, or maybe a sharp, dry cheese. Let me know if you add anything you like. Call it what you wish, but I've been dreaming of this warm, spiced bowl of my favorite squash. 

Speaking of bowls, I wrote a recipe for Wisconsin Cheese showcasing their gorgonzola and they created a video of our process. Have a look if you're interested. 

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MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL // Serves 4

A note on texture. As written, the kale ends up somewhere between a kale chip and sauteed kale - crisp edges and a tender center. If you want it more crisp, make sure your kale is completely dry and add 5 minutes to the baking time. If you prefer it less crisp, take 5 minutes off the baking time, giving it just enough time to wilt. The squash and fennel have some kick, if you don't like too much spice, eliminate the red pepper flakes. 

  • 3 small delicata squash (about 1 - 1.5 lb. total) skin on, halved and seeded
  • 1 large fennel bulb, reserving fronds for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt (smoked or sea salt) + pepper
  • 1 bunch purple kale, stems removed
  • 3 Tbsp. minced red onion
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Preheat the oven to 400'. Arrange one oven rack in the upper third and one on the bottom third. 

Slice the squash into 1'' half moons. Slice the fennel down the center, cut out the tough core, slice into 1/2'' wedges. Spread everything on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, maple, mustard, cayenne, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few generous pinches of smoked salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat everything, adding another drizzle of oil or maple if it seems too dry. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized, tossing the vegetables half way through. 

Rip the kale into large chunks, drizzle it with remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread it on another baking sheet. At the 30 minute mark, move the squash tray to the lower rack and put the kale on the top rack. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are crisp. Add your minced onion and gently toss everything together. Enjoy warm. 

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