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New ingredient – delicata squash

Some kind person (I’ve completely forgotten who) randomly gave me a delicata.

And, since it’s a winter squash, it sat about on my counter for a while as I perused the internet for tasty recipes.

Finally, after much research, I decided on Delicata squash with spiced pecans and dried cranberries. Yum.

So I set about acquiring dried cranberries – which really should not be that hard. I couldn’t find them at the grocery across the street. I kept forgetting to check the indian grocer. The fancy grocery three blocks away had some tiny bags that had extra sugar added (which they all might, for all I know, but they weren’t very pleasant about giving me directions to the dried fruit area), so I didn’t buy theirs. Today, I tried the spice lady at the farmers’ market, and while I cleaned her out of dried tomatoes and passed by her dried peaches, there was not a single cranberry to be found.

Secretly, however, I had already started forming other plans a few days before the farmers’ market. And I had gone and acquired mushrooms.

And so I call my dish

Autumnal Delicata

Slice the squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice each half in half, and then into 1/2″ slices. Because the internet says you can eat the skin.

Chuck the slices into a plastic bag. Add 1tsp olive oil and some salt and pepper. Twist the bag closed, and then shake the squash around so it is evenly coated. Dump the squash onto a roasting pan, and stick it in a 350F oven.

Take a container of baby portabella mushrooms; peel the caps, wipe off the stems, and cut the pieces into large chunks (roughly 1″ square). Dump the pieces into the same plastic bag. Add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Shake about.

When the squash is stirred/turned over (approximately 20 minutes, but I wasn’t timing it), dump the mushrooms on top and let them join in the cooking.

In a large skillet, heat up 2 tsps olive oil. Add some fresh rosemary (I find that if you get the right balance of frying the rosemary, without burning it, you get delicious crunchy pieces, instead of chewy ones, with minimal prep effort). After the oil had had a chance to bubble around the rosemary, add 1 tsp red wine and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar.

Let the wine and vinegar reduce a little, but as soon as it starts looking thick, add 1 diced onion. I also had a leek to use up, so I added it (white and green parts, sliced and cleaned) at this time, too.

Once the onions are looking all glisteny and brown from the vinegar, add some (2+ cloves) garlic.

Only once your alliums are looking seriously intimidated, pull out the pan from the oven and dump the squash and mushrooms into the skillet. (note: if you leave time for the squash to cool, it would be easy to slip off the peels at this point)

Stir, stir, stir.

I had ready some stock to add if things started to look dry, but I ended up not using any.

And then I finished off with a handful of fresh sage and fennel (leaves only, minced) and over a tablespoon (the rest of what was left in my jar) of apricot jelly.

And then I dumped it in a bowl and ate it all up.

Other things I could add: pasta/risotto, a little bit of ground clove/nutmeg, red pepper, sexy sharp cheese.

Final impression: I didn’t like the skin on the squash, so I ended up picking the squash pieces out first so I could deal with separating the skins. Just because a thing can be done, that does not necessarily mean it should be done. But other than that, the flavors came together very well and it was tres sexy. While the mushrooms where the genius that led me to this approach, the apricot jelly was the cleverest part of this scheme.

Notes for modifications to try in a future attempt: I have read on the internet that you can peel delicata raw with a vegetable peeler, but I don’t believe them. So if you want the squash peeled, you might want to be sure you time it earlier (or have teflon fingers)… and then if you time it earlier, you might want to start the mushrooms with the onions instead of with the squash. That sort of thing. But I trust you to figure out the details so that they’ll work for you.

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