Roasted Delicata Squash, Apples and Black Rice - Two ways!


I've got some delicata squash LOVE comin' at ya! If you've yet to dive into the delectable world of winter squash, delicata is an excellent place to start! A truly brilliant winter squash that I think you're gonna LOVE adding to your menu this season. Stuffed or sliced, they're offset beautifully with black rice stuffing, roasted apples and toasted red walnuts.

A few reasons to grab some delicata squash today:

~ they have creamy, golden flesh, that sweetens with roasting

~ they have thin skins that are soft enough to eat, no peeling!

~ their smaller shape makes breaking them down a snap

~ they're the perfect size for stuffing

~ they're an excellent source of vitamins A, C and fiber

~ they're a good source of B vitamins and minerals

~ they contain roughly 40% more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids*

~ they have a short storage life, only about 4-5 weeks, so they won't be around all season

* Most people eating a Western diet don't consume nearly enough omega-3 fatty acids. Most experts agree a 1:4 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 or even a 1:1 ratio is ideal for optimal health. Some reports indicate Americans are eating 10-20x the amount of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids!

Why is this important? In brief, both Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential, meaning they aren't produced by our body, so we must consume them through foods. Once consumed, our body converts these fatty acids into other types of fatty acids our body can use to maintain vital functions. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids make up cell membranes, maintain the nervous system, keep cholesterol in check and reduce inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids can block the conversion of Omega-3 fatty acids into the types of fatty acids needed to maintain these functions. So it's a good idea to keep this ratio in check. Adding winter squash to your plate (or bowl!) is an excellent way to accomplish this.

[Camera shy: fresh cranberries]

As with most fruits and veg, roasting intensifies the sweetness of the delicata due to the Maillard reaction and a bit of caramelization. Whether you decide to stuff the delicata or serve them sliced as part of a platter, the ingredients are the same.

Let's get started!

Total Time: 40-45 minutes Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 35-45 minutes

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Here's what you will need for 4 servings:

2 medium delicata squash

2 baking apples (I used Macintosh)

1 cup black (also called forbidden) rice

2 cups water or veg stock

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

2 tsps sea salt, divided

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp rubbed sage

1 large shallot or small yellow onion

1/2 cup fresh cranberries, halved

1/2 cup walnuts, Red or English

1/4 cup tart dried cherries, roughly chopped

juice from 1/2 a lemon

The Process:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone liner. Wash and dry the delicata, cut each in half, lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.

2. Grind the fennel seeds and sage together using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

3. For STUFFED delicata, drizzle the halves with 1 tsp olive oil (rubbing it around to fully coat) and sprinkle with salt and 1/2 of the spice mixture. Place cut side down and bake for 25 minutes. Flip to cut side up and bake for another five minutes. For SLICED delicata, cut each half on the bias into 1/2" pieces, toss with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and half of the spice mixture. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, bake for 25 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

4. While the squash is cooking, make the black rice. Bring 2 cups water or veg stock to a simmer in a medium pot. Rinse and drain the rice well in cold water. Add the rice and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the boiling water, stirring once. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Note: black rice will be more firm than white rice when done.

5. While the rice is cooking, sauté the shallot (or yellow onion) over medium high heat in a sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Once it begins to brown (about 5-6 minutes), add the halved cranberries to the pan and cook two minutes more, until the cranberries have softened. Transfer this mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.

6. While the rice and squash are still cooking, prepared the apples. Wash, dry and core the apples, then cut into 3/4" - 1" wedges. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil and the remaining seasonings, tossing to coat. Spread them onto a non-stick baking sheet and bake in the oven (upper rack) for 10-12 minutes, or until soft. Macintosh apples get soft quickly and can become too fragile if not watched carefully. When done, set aside but keep warm.

7. When the squash and apples are done baking, reduce the oven temperature to 200F. Spread the walnuts onto a baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Bake for 10 -12 minutes, or until fragrant. Cool slightly, then roughly chop.

The red walnut is fairly new to the market. It is the result of cross-breeding and tastes like the English walnut but a bit creamier and less bitter. [Not everyone finds walnuts bitter, and not everyone thinks cilantro tastes like soap. I'm sure there is a gene responsible.] You can read more about them HERE.

The ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) -a lab technique used to quantify the total antioxidant capacity of a food) has not yet been tested for red walnuts. It is expected they will prove to be the highest antioxidant nut available. Look for them on sale or use regular English walnuts.

8. Transfer the cooked rice to bowl with the shallot and cranberry mixture. Add the chopped dried cherries, lemon juice, and salt. Toss together to distribute evenly.

9. To assemble the STUFFED delicata: fill each half of the delicata squash with 1/4 of the black rice stuffing. Garnish with toasted walnuts and a slice or two of the baked apples.

10. To assemble the SLICED delicata: transfer the black rice stuffing to a platter. Arrange the apples and squash slices on top. Sprinkle with the toasted walnut. Enjoy!

ALTERNATIVELY: if you use a firm baking apple, you may choose to dice the apples, then bake and gently toss them into the rice stuffing. Macintosh apples are intensely flavored, but more delicate so I chose to add them on top. I also think the color contrast is more striking this way. What do you think?

Nutrition information is for one half of a stuffed delicata squash or 1/4 of the black rice and squash platter.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear how you and your guests liked it! Snap a photo and tag me too, #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!

DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.

NOTE: All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on A Seat at My Table so credit is given where credit is due. Thank you!

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CatherineeBrown@hotmail.com  603-237-1012  PO Box 253 Errol, NH 03579