|A Farm Chef's Journey Continues: Delicata and Acorn Squash|
|Right Food for the Season - Late Fall|
|Written by Chef Todd Heberlein|
As a child I was never much of a fresh food enthusiast – mostly because my family primarily ate canned or frozen vegetables. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I had my first encounter with “Winter squash”. Now that I’m a chef at Wilson Farm – a family-run farm known for wonderful homegrown vegetables for over 125 years, I have learned that you can’t judge a squash by its size. Each variety has its own unique character and flavor and is a vital part of so many delicious fall and winter dishes.
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Take Delicata or Acorn Squash for example. They may be smaller in size but they’re big on flavor – holding their own against most of their larger cousins. Sometimes the larger squash varieties hold more water, which dilutes the flavor. That’s not the case with Delicata and Acorn Squash, where the flavor of these local gems shines through. I’m passionate about big, beautiful flavors of squash, and in my opinion squash is always better when home grown (of course, I’m fortunate to have the Wilson Farm fields just outside my kitchen door).
Not only are these smaller squashes pure of flavor, but they’re a cinch to prepare. No need to peel them, just cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub some butter on the inside, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven for a tasty treat. But don’t stop there. The value of these squash is doubled because you can also use them as an edible baking dish. Fill them with grains, sausage, or even soup – then bake. Let your imagination run wild and create a delicious and healthy dinner with Delicata or Acorn Squash. Here is one of my favorite recipes that’s a perfect fit for Delicata or Acorn Squash – and it’s a sampling favorite at the farm.
Roasted Delicata or Acorn Squash with Caramelized Onion and Chestnuts
2 delicata or acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cups panko bread crumbs
⅓ cup chestnuts, chopped
5 tablespoons butter (2 tablespoons melted)
1 ½ tablespoons sage, chopped
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Rub inside of squash lightly with 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until soft and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes (depending on size). Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.
Add onions and cook until they become golden brown, about 10-12 minutes (don’t stir for the first couple of minutes then sparingly too keep them from sticking). Add ½ of the sage and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Raise oven temperature to 375º. In a bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, chestnuts, sage, 2 Tbs. melted butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Divide onions into squash, then sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top. Bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!
Next in the Series: Blue Hubbard and Chicago Warted Squash
PHOTO CREDIT: Christopher Previte, Wilson Farm