Cooked delicata is slightly sweet and combines perfectly with the warming spices used in this recipe complement the soft interior and slightly crisped exterior of the roasted squash.
I love butternut squash but I do not like opening them.
Delicata squash to the rescue.
The outer skin of butternut squash is so thick and they’re so rock-hard that even slicing it in half is much easier said than done. I feel like I could easily lose a limb with the machete-sized knife I need to use in order to hack through it and I have to wind-up as if I am swinging my knife like a baseball bat at home plate, just to enable my knife to initially pierce the concrete-like exterior. And yes, I have very large and sharp knives, but I still struggle.
If this sounds familiar, your new best friend is the smaller and much more user-friendly delicata squash, also known as the peanut squash, Bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash. It’s typically viewed as a winter squash but is actually in the same family as summer squash; think zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, which are so much easier to work with raw. By no means is delicata soft like a zucchini but it’s much softer than a butternut.
The beauty of delicata is that their characteristic green-veined skin is thin and it’s edible, so they don’t require peeling, a nice time, effort, and finger saver.
I trimmed the top and bottom inch from the squash so that I had flat bases, stood it on one end, and then cut down it vertically and scooped out the minimal amount of seeds. Then I sliced horizontal wedges, about three-quarters of an inch thick in width.
I placed the slices on a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat-lined baking tray, drizzled a few tablespoons olive oil over the pile, and generously sprinkled cinnamon, ginger, and a pinch of sugar. I tossed the sweetly spiced pile with my hands, then arranged the pieces in a single flat layer, and roasted them for about 20 minutes in a hot 425F oven. When roasting vegetables, high heat encourages crisping.
There are a million ways to flavor and season the squash, from coconut to canola oil, and from garlic to garam masala. I prefer warmly spiced notes this time of year and am a huge cinnamon fan. The cinnamon and ginger gave these chunks of beta-carotene a nice, warm, fragrant flavor and the pinch of sugar aided with caramelization.
After twenty minutes, I flipped the pieces over, and allowed them to roast for another ten minutes or so, long enough that they were browned and golden. Baking times will vary based on the sizes of the pieces, the squash itself and it’s moisture content, and how well-done your preference is.
Scott is not a huge squash fan, and if I’m going to get him to eat it, or tell him that Baked Parsnip Fries are regular fries, I need to ensure everything is well-done and well-caramelized. He gravitates for the blackest pieces.
The outside of the delicata crisped slightly and the interior remained soft, tender, and buttery. The flesh of delicata is less fibrous and creamier than butternut or acorn squash, and it’s a bit sweeter, which is nice in case someone in your house isn’t a big squash lover. I find it to be closer in taste to roasted sweet potatoes compared to many other squash varieties and like all squash or root vegetables, it’s hearty and filling, warm and comforting.
I like dipping the little half-moons into Homemade Spicy Honey Mustard and because they’re nature’s version of a Scoop-style chip, they’re perfect dippers. Five year old Skylar eats her squash, parsnips, and turnips well-slathered in ketchup. Whatever works.
Most of us likely comforted ourselves all day long yesterday with Thanksgiving food. And then with the leftovers. And December means holiday parties and holiday cheer for a solid month and eating a few extra vegetables is probably a good thing.
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Roasted Cinnamon-Ginger Delicata Squash
Delicata squash is much easier to cut and work with raw, compared to much harder butternut squash. Cooked delicata is slightly sweet, not fibrous or stringy, and reminds me of roasted sweet potatoes. The warming spices used in this recipe complement the soft interior and slightly crisped exterior of the roasted squash.
- 1 medium delicata squash, trimmed to 3/4-inch thick pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or substitute coconut oil, canola oil, or a favorite oil)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional but helps with caramelization
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
- salt and pepper, optional and to taste
- optional seasonings desired, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F, line a baking tray with a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat, 11 5/8 x 16 1/2-inches, Half Sheet Size or line tray with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- Trim about one inch of flesh from each end of squash, creating flat bases. Stand the squash on one and and carefully slice it lengthwise. Remove seeds and fibrous or stringy membranes from squash and discard. Slice into pieces about 3/4-inch thick in width; length does not matter.
- Place squash pieces in a mound on baking tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle cinnamon, sugar, ginger, salt, pepper, and any optional seasonings used over the top. Toss with hands to coat and distribute. Arrange squash in an even flat layer on baking tray, without sides touching. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, remove tray, and flip pieces over with tongs. Return tray to oven and bake for 5 to 15+ minutes on second side, or until desired browning is reached. Baking times will vary greatly based on squash used, its moisture content, how big or small pieces are, and personal preferences.
- Serve immediately. Optionally, serve with Spicy Honey Mustard or Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip Leftover squash may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 57Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g
Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) – Healthier than potato-based fries, and parsnips have a nice warming little kick and the cooling creamy dip balances the flavors
Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) – I roasted the carrots and peppers in this soup until they were very well-done, and pureed them with coconut milk, peanuts, and peanut butter, for a soup was a smokey, hearty, easy, and robustly flavored
Caribbean Citrus Roasted Sweet Potatoes – Yams and sweet potatoes can do no wrong and I played up their naturally sweet attributes by roasting them with Caribbean-themed spices
Roasted Sweet Potato Fries (vegan, GF) – I’ll never tire of good old-fashioned roasted sweet potatoes and strongly prefer roasted sweet potatoes to roasted white potatoes
Coconut Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Almonds (vegan, GF) – Roasted nuts engulfed in a cinnamon-sugar coating make the house smell divine and no one will be able to keep their hands out of the jar
Sweet Potato Graham Cracker “French Toast” Sticks – Don’t judge a book by it’s cover because you’ll miss out on how to turn sweet potatoes into French toast sticks, complete with their own baked-in streusel topping. This recipe was included in the Trader Joe’s cookbook I was a contributing author in, and if potatoes can be dessert, this recipe is how
Roasted Peanut Butter Coconut Ginger Carrots (vegan, GF) – A marinade of peanut butter, coconut oil, ginger, and cinnamon is used to coat baby carrots and it turns crunchy while baking
Have you tried delicata squash or have a favorite squash or root vegetable recipe?
Any squash opening tips or tricks?
I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes and any tricks you use to make cracking open raw squash easier and safer, rather than the whack ‘n pray method.
Have a great Thanksgiving weekend and stay tuned for a giveaway!
I just started experimenting with delicata squash this year. LOVE that you don’t have to peel it. Sometimes I get so aggravated when peeling pumpkins, kabochas or acorn squash.
I just love, love, love delicata squash. It has such a lovely and unique flavor. Yours looks really delicious and perfectly roasted.
Those caramelized edges are glorious! I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never tried Delicata. I’ve always “meant” to, but wind up grabbing one of the other types surrounding it, instead. But sometime in the next 6 weeks or so…it’s on. I’m making a point of buying one. And I may just have to give this method a go for my first time around – love the cinnamon!
I bet you’ll love it once you try it!
I don’t think I’ve tried that kind of squash before, but I do love all the squashes I have tried.
I love how balanced you are in all things, Averie, but particularly in your parenting style. Good for you that you’ve managed to get Skylar on board with squash, slathered in ketchup or not!
She had brussels sprouts for breakfast/brunch this morning, and some things go over better than others, of course. But seriously in this house, there is no room to be a picky eater – I have too many food trials happening for recipes and it’s kind of like, this is what’s served. Eat it :) Sometimes that’s squash and sometimes that’s a ridiculous dessert, but it all seems to work out!
No wonder it’s called butter-NUT squash, it needs some nut cracker, a very big one, and preferably with slicing option too… :)
” butter-NUT squash, it needs some nut cracker” <-- lightbulb a-hah! moment! YES!! It needs a nutcracker to open the thing! I wonder how the pilgrims or our ancestors opened them? Maybe they just dropped them on the ground and let them go splat...which actually wouldn't be a bad idea to crack it open that way :)
Hehe, I guess again the Indians helped the pilgrims to crack pumpkins open: tomahawk was a part of Wampanoag Indians outfit (as well as many other’s). :)
You are not alone Averie: I love butternut squash but have the very same issue. I use cleaver knife and chop about an inch thick rings off the squash, then clean each circle from the seeds, and bake. After it I can prepare it the way I like it. That’s the only more or less (I think still more) labor intensive way to deal with that stubborn yet fantastic tasting vegetable… :)
And what you described still sounds like work! I do love butternut and the best way I deal with them is just halve them, and put a mixture of sauce, i.e. mustard, soy, ginger, whatever I feel like in the hole, baste it onto the flesh, and then bake. It’s not perfect either but it passes. They are so tricky – delicata is way easier to contend with!
I love how Trader Joe’s sells butternut squash already peeled and cut. So convenient!
Any time veggies or fruit are cut into, I worry about shelf-life, bacteria being exposed, etc. so I do like cutting into them myself when I’m ready for them but not wrestling with them – such a dilemma :) Because yes the precut are SUPER handy and no fingers will be lost!
You know the sole reason why I don’t buy whole butternut squash is bc I LOATHE peeling and chopping it! I have never seen Delicata squash before, unless I am super blind and oblivious at the store. I usually pay extra for it pre-sliced! Glad there is a solution out there. I loooove roasted squash of any variety. Just like all my roasted veggies, I like them sorta burned and crispy.:) I have to try them dipped in honey mustard! Ketchup is my usual dippage of choice haha! Skylar and I are long lost twins.
Some people say they have a hard time finding it, but it’s right in the squash bins of my regular grocery store for like, 99 cents. Right by acorn, butternut, and all those bumpy guys :)
And yes, I love my ketchup too girl. Skylar didn’t fall far from the tree..ha!
I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who uses a machete to crack open butternut squash! Lol I just read an article on winter squash and delicata was highly recommended. This recipe looks so good ~ I can’t wait to try it! Thanks Averie!!
ooooo…I love roasted squash – and all the ideas you shared.
The butternut squash dilemma you mentioned definitely sounds familiar. Happens to me every time. I’ve taken to cutting them like a week before I use them just to get it out of the way!
It looks like I need to get my hands on a delicata squash, and fast. And then I will roast it with cinnamon and ginger because that sounds sooooo good. Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!
Thank you for the the jazzy recipes for the veggies.
Also, appreciate your intro to peanut and Bohemian squash.
Whew! I can finally put away the machete =)
I used to think that delicata was my least favorite, but now I love it! I’ve been eating one for breakfast every day for the past two weeks. I love that you can eat the skin and all of it. Now, even the supposed “smooth” squashes taste stringy to me. I’m starting to get pickier. Butternut isn’t creamy enough for me anymore. :D
Great photos! I love this recipe.
I am obsessed with using fresh pie pumpkins but they are a nightmare to take apart, about a million times worse than butternut. But a few times a year, I have to admit with a lot of caution it’s pretty worth it.
Whacking into a pumpkin is totally an act of faith…praying that all goes well :)
isn’t that funny that you posted this.
a little secret of mine: every time I go to whole foods, I get a small container of their butternut squash
from the food bar for the ride home.
I swear to you I crave that almost daily. I don’t know why, just tastes so darn good, and I think I’m deficient in vit A.
But I hear you on the chopping part.
Just make sure you use a board that does NOT slide away from you.
I dont even set foot in that store b/c I’d go broke :) I want everything in there!
Lovely recipe. I almost never touch butternut squashes because they are so danged hard to open. This looks so delicious. I love cinnamon on squash. It’s so comforting and warming. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!
You too and hope all those pies you made were a hit!
I pretty much love any squash. I have found that if you microwave them for about 3 minutes, you feel less like you’re going to hack off a finger or hand when you try to cut them.
Now that you mention that, I think my mom used to do that…like 20 years ago! As a kid, I paid no attention but I remember her ‘starting’ the squash in the micro. Ah-hah!!! :)
I’ve never tried delicata squash before, I look for it next time I’m in the grocery store. I agree, cutting up a butternut squash can be a dangerous task!
I usually feel like I could lose a finger – but the delicata is much easier!
I love the name, Bohemian squash! Thanks for the introduction. :D With the amount of food I ate yesterday, anything roasted and veggie sounds refreshing!
Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!
I love roasted squash, this looks incredible!
Thanks for the pin and glad you love your squash, too!
Hey girl! You and I are on the same page. I just recently tried delicata squash for the first time when I made my delicata squash and kale salad. It’s amazing and super easy to prepare because there is no peeling involved! Yippee. I find butternut squash easy to prepare but not acorn squash. That thing is a pain to cut in half.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday. We ate too much and I wanted to hit the gym today to burn it all off, but I’m feeling lazy! My workout buddies are on vacation so my motivation is low!
I remember seeing your delicata post! Both acorn and butternut are doosies for me!
I love delicate squash but I haven’t seen it this year at our Whole Foods. I have total envy right now. It’s one of my favorites, for sure! Love the ginger addition, can’t wait to try it if I can find some :)
I got this at the regular groc store for like 99 cents – I am far too frugal to even set foot in WFs :) I would love to but can’t afford to!
Your description of opening butternut squash at the opening of your post made me laugh out loud. What a great way to start my morning! When I’m using butternut squash I usually cut of the narrow top bit first, and then work on peeling and cutting it in to separate pieces which both have flat ends. I’m going to have to try delicata squash now though, because this looks amazing. Also, I’ve wondered about using a silpat for squash and you just answered my question, thanks!
Silpat works like a champ and this is 100% easier than a butternut to open!
Roasted winter squash is the best and I love it with cinnamon! I like the varieties that can be eaten unpeeled–so much easier. I have not been able to find delicata this year (which I think is weird for the Midwest) but I found it easily last year and it’s one of my favorites. I have a flat pan for my gas grill and can keep the temp steady so I roasted a kabocha on it earlier in the week and it really turned out well. Such a relief since I’ll be oven-less until I can decide on a new one. So many ovens also have convection capabilities and I’m thinking I might like that feature. If you have any thoughts or experience with that I would love your opinion!
I found it at my regular grocery store for like 99 cents. I was like, oh cool! And tossed it into my cart! Your flat pan idea for the grill sounds like a winner.
Convection ovens – my mom has one and she really likes it but my oven is just regular/plain Jane. I know that they theoretically cook food faster and more evenly than regular ovens but as a blogger, I actually wouldn’t want to use one b/c I’d never know how to recommend cooking times to readers since most people just have a regular oven. I think it would take a little practice to ‘convert’ baking times but that once you do, they’re great….so many choices out there…
I LOVE winter squash, and my blog is full of ideas: acorn squash bowls for chili, stuffed delicata, roasted kabocha, butternut squash fries. I also made turnip fries the other day. So good, too! I usually just hack the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it. I deal with rest of the slicing afterwards. But you’re right, if you want to make fries, it takes some time to cut everything. I think of it as a built in arm workout. ;)
Turnip and parsnip fries are both so good! And love all your squash ideas (and the arm workout logic :))
These look gorgeous! I’ve never cooked with them before but love the sound of an easier opening than butternut (even though I love you so, butternut!)
Way way easier than a Butternut!