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The Produce Corner is a collaborative column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano and Dill Pickle's Produce Lead Buyer, Kristen Martinek. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips; Kristen offers nutritional information and additional recipe ideas. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.
This time of year brings, literally, truckloads of winter squash to the markets each week. After growing for almost the entire summer, these veggies are ready to shine. All shapes and colors adorn the shelves and it is difficult to know what's what. For those of you that are a little hesitant to try something unfamiliar, allow me to steer you in the right direction: delicata squash. You're gonna thank me for this one, folks.
Delicata squash have a creamy flesh that is even more buttery than butternuts and a tad sweeter than sweet potatoes. They are typically small and oblong, about 6-10 inches long. Delicata have a creamy beige skin with green, yellow or orange stripes. They are the perfect size for making 1-2 servings. Best of all, they are one of the easiest of the winter squash to clean, cut, and cook. Look for firm skins on the delicata and no mold. Like most winter squash, they store well, probably about 3-4 weeks. Keep them in a cool (the refrigerator is too cold) and dark spot.
Here's an easy, classic recipe. Clean the delicata squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (prepare them like pumpkin seeds!) and coat with a little olive oil. Place in the oven at 425 and bake, turning once or twice. Continue until the sides are golden brown and the texture is creamy. Eat, and savor, with a spoon! - Rob
I thought I had already experienced the best winter squash had to offer. Acorn, spaghetti, and butternuts were always a regular in my house during the fall & winter. Until my friend introduced me to the delicata at the market one year…edible skin?! Sold. One bite in & I was hooked. Not only are delicata delicious, they also pack in a substantial amount of nutrition and lasting energy with their high percentage of complex carbohydrates. Winter squashes like the delicata are great sources of carotenoids, antioxidants (vitamins A & C), fiber, and even provide some healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These are such an economically friendly winter source of healthy carbohydrates to keep you nourished throughout the winter months. And thanks to farmers like Rob Montalbano, we will have locally sourced, organically grown squash all season long! -Kristen