While I am a butternut squash nut, it is a pain in the butt to peel those things, so when delicata squash are in season, I get them when I’m feeling lazy. The skin is so thin on delicata squash you don’t have to peel it off! YAY!
This recipe is from my Williams-Sonoma Vegetable of the Day cookbook, which has a bunch of roasted winter squash recipes. I especially like this one because it uses two of my favorite ingredients, maple syrup and citrus zest, a balance of rich and bright flavors.
I have two roasting tricks. The first is to give your pan a “hot start,” meaning I put my baking sheets in the oven while it’s preheating, then add the squash slices (they will sizzle a little if the pan is hot enough). I also roast my squash for five more minutes than the recipe calls for. Both of these tricks help to caramelize the bottom of each slice for deeper flavor. When Liz and I recently ate at Giulia, a great little Italian restaurant in our neighborhood, we ordered a delicata squash appetizer and Liz said the most charred slice was the best bite.
The original recipe only calls for 3 tablespoons of cranberries, but I added 2 whole cups of fresh cranberries to roast in the same pans. They are too tart to eat on their own, so I used most of them to make roasted cranberry sauce. Two birds with one stone! Just add 1/4 cup maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup water to the roasted cranberries, then mash it all up. This is a thin sauce and works well as a drizzle or glaze. If you want a thicker sauce, simply use less water or none at all.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Vegetable of the Day. I added slightly more butter and maple syrup and coated the squash slices in the mixture from the beginning to keep them moist. The original recipe yields squash slices that are quite dry.
I increased the cranberries called for in the recipe to 2 cups to make roasted cranberry sauce on the same baking sheets. Prepared this way, the cranberry sauce is infused with the flavors of butter, maple, lemon zest, and thyme.
You can substitute honey for the maple syrup, orange zest for the lemon zest, and rosemary or sage for the thyme.
Give your baking sheets a "hot start" by putting them in the oven while it's preheating. This will help the squash caramelize even more.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Butter 2 baking sheets. Trim the ends from each squash, scrape out the seeds, and cut into rings.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the maple syrup, salt, thyme, and lemon zest, then remove from the heat. Toss the squash slices in the butter mixture, then arrange on the baking sheets, making sure the slices lay flat. Roast for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle the cranberries on. Return the baking sheets to the oven, switching the sheet on the lower rack to the upper rack and vice versa to ensure even browning. Continue to roast until the squash slices are glazed, browned and tender when pierced with a fork, 15-20 minutes more.
- Transfer the squash slices to a platter and serve immediately.
- If making roasted cranberry sauce, scoop the cranberries into a mixing bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Mix in 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place the sauce in a jar and refrigerate overnight.
It's important not to overcrowd your pans, which is why I use two baking sheets (the recipe in the book only calls for one). Make sure each slice lies flat against the pan so the bottoms caramelize properly. When you take the roasted squash out of the oven, the slices will still be yellow on one side, but when you flip them over, they'll be a deep orange color on the other side. That's where all the flavor is!