One of the things I did not expect from going paleo is the change in my taste buds. While I wasn’t eating a ton of packaged foods previously, switching to a largely paleo diet has made my palate more sensitive to quieter flavors, like those of delicata squash.
As the name implies, delicatas really are a more delicate sort of winter squash. The rind is not as firm and they cook much faster than harder varieties. Their flavor reminds me of a sweet potato, and I think they would be similarly delicious in a pie or quick bread.
This easy side dish is a good companion for a more flavorful dish like roast chicken or pork; I am also happy to just eat it with crackers.
If you are using it as a side, you can even roast the squash in the oven along with the chicken, though delicatas will cook much more quickly and need to be taken out of the oven first. However you do it, I highly recommend roasting the squash whole. Winter squashes are often extremely hard and slippery, and I like having all my fingers, so roasting them intact makes most sense to me. Then it’s just peel, take out the seeds and stringy bits, season, smash and eat.
Za’atar* is a spice blend common in Middle Eastern food. There are different blends, of course, but the heart of it is sesame, thyme and sumac (which gives it an earthy, citrusy tang). If you’ve ever gone to a Lebanese restaurant, there is likely to be za’atar on the table.
Dried parsley adds a bit more of that grassy, herbal flavor. It’s subtle, but worth adding. Finish it off with a swish of olive oil, and enjoy.
- 2 delicata squash
- 1 tablespoon za'atar
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Olive oil for serving
- Roast squash in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, or until skin is slightly charred and the flesh gives when poked with a fork. Remove from oven; set aside until cool enough to handle.
- When cool, peel squash and cut in half. Using a spoon or small rubber spatula, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh around them; discard.
- In a large bowl, combine cleaned squash, za'ataar, salt and parsley. Stir vigorously to combine.
- Add a swirl of olive oil and serve immediately.
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