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Delicata Squash with Pears and Chili-Brown Sugar

18 October

4 servings, about 3/4 cup each

Delicata squash is milder and not as sweet as other winter squash. It pairs well with hearty winter dishes. It has a thin skin so there is no need to peel it (you can eat the peel). It is a great source of beta-carotene — the same compound the body converts to vitamin A, essential for healthy skin, vision, and a strong  immune system. Try it roasted with red onion and aromatic rosemary or juicy pears and a dash of chili powder. It steams up beautifully, too. It is simple and festive tossed with dried fruit and toasted nuts. Or saute thin slices with orange juice and a sprinkling of pistachios.

1 pound delicata squash (about 1 large)
2 medium-sized ripe but firm pears, sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 slices bacon (optional)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder

1. preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pear slices, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet.
3. Roast squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20-25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook bacon (if using) in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
5. Discard all but 2 teaspoons of fat from pan. If not using bacon, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to pan and continue. Over medium heat, stir in water, brown sugar, and chili powder. Add the squash and pears; toss to coat. Crumble bacon on top.

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