Delicata Squash (Cucurbita pepo var. pepo), also called sweet potato squash, peanut squash or Bohemian squash, is a winter squash of the heirloom variety to be very recently introduced in the world of cooking. Unlike other winter squashes, it can be sliced or chopped easily without needing to be baked or roasted for softening the skin.
Table Of Content
Shape: It has a long narrow shape.
Texture: This winter squash is popular for its soft, fine, creamy texture.
Size: It is 5 to 10 inches long, weighing around 1 to 2 pounds.
Color: The yellow or cream skin has dark green longitudinal stripes, while the flesh is orangish or yellow in color.
Smell: This soft textured fruit has a sweet smell.
Taste: Its sweet taste resembles that of corn or sweet potato.
The nutrition content in 116gm raw Delicata squash is given below:
Rich in vitamins: Delicata squash meets ¾ of the daily Vitamin A requirement, thereby helping in improving eyesight and aiding in mucous membrane formation as well as regeneration of skin and tissue cells. Small amounts of Vitamin B present in this squash makes it beneficial in the process of metabolism, improving appetite, ensuring the functioning of the nerve as well as synthesizing antibodies. It also has a rich Vitamin C content of about 15% per ¾ cup serving, thus helping in maintaining healthy skin and improving immune system.
High in Calcium: Being rich in calcium it helps in strengthening the bones and teeth, while providing energy.
Good source of Iron: Consumption of Delicata squash meets 2% of the recommended intake of iron, thus facilitating in supplying oxygen to the body and maintaining hemoglobin.
Rich in complex carbohydrates: Due to the rich carbohydrate content, they help in maintaining blood sugar levels, also ensuring proper digestion.
Cancer prevention: Being high in carotenoids, Delicata squash has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds that make it a probable option for preventing cancer. However further studies are going on to gather more evidence.
Helps in weight loss: As it is completely fat and glutten free, this variety of squash, when consumed with a protein source or other vegetables, helps in maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet, thus aiding in shedding the extra calories.
Rich in dietary fiber: The insoluble fibers in the strings and seeds smoothen the digestion process, thus aiding in proper discharge of waste products from the body and in turn reducing constipation. Consumption of this winter squash can be beneficial for people suffering from hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (intestinal disorder). The soluble fibers present in the flesh helps in controlling cholesterol level, thereby reducing the risk of cardiac diseases.
Consumption during pregnancy
Delicata squash is usually considered a good food source for pregnant women because of its rich folate content. However overconsumption should be avoided.
- Its flesh can be scooped to be used as a base for soup and puree.
- When stuffed with vegetables and chicken it forms a wholesome main course item.
- In its roasted or sautéed form, this squash is well suited for any salad preparation and can be seasoned with feta or goat cheese.
- Roasted delicata squash can be added to pasta, used as a side dish or consumed along with pork, turkey and other meat dishes. It also forms a tasty snack when made into fries or eaten with tahini sauce. Mixing honey to the roasted squash will sweeten its taste.
- Delicata squash and tofu is cooked together to prepare a delicious and nutritious curry.
- A tasty pizza topping is made from sautéed delicata squash.
- Toasted delicata squash seeds serve as a crunchy, nutritious snack.
- On being cooked with chickpeas or kale, or grilled with sautéed vegetables, it makes a popular vegan dish.
- Its sweet flavor makes it to be used in making pudding, donuts, muffins, pie and other dessert recipes.
- It can be stir-fried with cashews, brown rice and other vegetables to prepare a tasty lunch or dinner dish.
- Peeled and mashed squashes are used for preparing a nutritious baby food.
- Delicata squash risotto
- Maple and Thyme Roasted Delicata Squash with Cranberries
- Baked Delicata Squash with Lime Butter
- Tomato and Coconut Crock-Pot Chicken Curry with Delicata Squash and Kale
- Roasted Delicata Squash, Eggplant, and Fennel with Lemon-Tahini over Quinoa
- Stuffed Delicata Squash with Wild Rice, Brown Butter and Sage
- Leek and Delicata Squash soup with Caramelized Apple Croutons
- Roasted Delicata squash chips with sweet chilly garlic dipping sauce
- Delicata Squash Egg Crepe
- Roasted Delicata Squash with Yogurt Chive Dipping Sauce
- Parmesan Crusted Delicata Squash
How to cook delicata squash
It is mostly prepared by baking, but may also be steamed, microwaved or sautéed. The preparation to be taken before cooking is as follows:
- Wash and scrub the squash well in cold water to remove any germs.
- Unlike most other squashes, its edible skin need not be peeled.
- Cut it length-wise into two halves, using a sharp knife.
- Take out the seeds and fibers with a metal spoon.
- When the halves are being cut into long slices, make sure that they resemble the shape of a boat.
Roasting: Cook for about forty minutes in an oven that is preheated to a temperature of 450° Fahrenheit. Continue cooking till the squash has softened and is brown in color.
Cooking in microwave: Take a dish and fill it with 60 ml of water. Put the squash into it and cover it tightly. After microwaving it on high for 10 minutes poke the squash with a fork to see if it is tender or not. Keep cooking in a minute’s interval till it has softened.
Steaming: Take little water in a saucepan or steamer basket and boil till it softens. Cubed pieces take about 10 minutes to cook whereas the sliced ones take about 15 minutes.
Coking on stove: Cook it in medium flame and stir it well till it softens
It can be substituted by sweet potato, buttercup squash and butternut squash.
Where to buy
Being relatively rare than other winter squashes, it is often available in farmers markets as well as grocery stores or supermarkets. While selecting, the heavy ones having a cream color are to be bought while the light colored spotted ones with wrinkled skins should be avoided.
How to store
Having a relatively short shelf life, it should be used within six weeks of purchase. It remains fresh for about a month when stored in dark, cool, well-ventilated area like a cellar or basement. You can store it in a refrigerator for about five days by cutting it into pieces and wrapping it well in a plastic cover.
- Originally a summer squash, delicata is categorized with winter squashes due to its hard flesh and winter harvesting time.
- Belonging to the Northern and Central parts of America, the European settlers came to know of delicata squash from the Native Americans.
- The Peter Henderson Company of New York City was the first to introduce it in 1894, remaining popular through 1920s, but lost its importance for a period of about 75 years as the thin tender skin made it difficult to be stored or transported to long distances.
- The traditional winter squash lost its commercial importance, being replaced by the Cornell Bush Delicata Squash, bred by Molly Jahn and George Moriarty at Cornwell University.
- by Mumpi Ghose
- February 4th 2015