The Little Island Kitchen – Delicata Squash

You may not have heard of them, and I certainly hadn’t until they arrived in my CSA box last autumn, but delicata squash have quickly become my favourite autumn vegetable. Golden yellow, long, and striped with a deep green, these sweet squashes are absolute lifesavers on busy weeknights when supper needs to happen fast. They have all the rich and comforting flavour of more familiar squash varieties, but need only a fraction of the time as you don’t need to peel them and they cook so quickly. Pan fried or oven roasted, they can add sunny colour and veggie goodness to many a meal.

These two recipes were borne out of cooking for family. My sister is vegan, so when we have dinner together, I challenge myself to make dishes that are plant based yet appeal to everyone at the table. The Delicata Tacos were inspired by a recent trip to Mexico, where our host’s housekeeper taught me to make authentic Yucateco tortillas, and I wanted to come up with a way to serve them without meat. The squash has a lovely filling texture and its rich sweetness works really well with crunchy red onions, a bit of habanero heat, and some zesty guacamole.

Delicata Tacos

The salad is part of what I will be serving at my Thanksgiving table this year, and I think it will be a hit. I like to change up my holiday spreads each year, revisiting what worked and what could be just a little bit more exciting,adding in some new surprises along the way. This Delicata Salad has such a lovely array of colours, quite like that of changing leaves, and will add that punchy sweetness and aromatic earthiness that so sums up autumn flavours.

I sourced my delicatas from Brian and Lorna of Pembroke Farm, located near Murray Harbour, where they  grow many summer and winter squashes. Check out their booth at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, and next time you’re rushing to get supper on the table, or crafting a meal from autumn’s bounty of vegetable gems, reach for one of their delicatas and discover its harvest sunset hues and creamy sweetness.

Smoky Delicata Tacos

Makes 16 tacos – Serves 4

1 large or 2 small Delicata squash
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
Olive oil
2 cups corn flour
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
Suggested toppings: refried beans, guacamole, cilantro, finely chopped red onion, 
Required equipment: resealable plastic sandwich bag cut down the sides,  rolling pin or tortilla press

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Celsius

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice into half-moon shapes. Aim for 32 slices in total.  Lay out the slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, cumin and paprika and toss to evenly coat  Roast in the centre of preheated oven for 20 minutes. Set a timer for halfway and flip the slices over.

For the tortillas, mix corn flour and salt in a large bowl and gradually add the water, mixing until it feels like play dough; separate into 16 even balls.  Place one ball at a time between the plastic bag sheets and press out into about 5″ discs with a rolling pin, heavy frying pan or tortilla press if you have one. Stack with plastic or parchment in between to keep them from sticking together. In a dry cast iron or heavy bottomed metal pan on medium high heat, cook the tortillas one at a time on the first side until the edges start to curl up and appear dry. Flip over and cook for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on the other side. Repeat until all the tortillas are ready.

Keep the tortillas warm in a medium bowl with a tea towel wrapped around them

Delicata Tacos

To serve, put 2 pieces of squash in each taco and add your favourite sauces and toppings. I like to add a smear of refried beans, some guacamole, chopped red onion and some cilantro.

Recipe by Paige Matthie 


Delicata Autumn Salad

1 medium/large delicata squash
1 bag kale, washed
1 cup hazelnuts
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
100 g goat cheese

Delicata Salad
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Celsius

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Slice into half moons about a centimetre thick and spread them out on a baking tray.  Sprinkle with thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the squash to coat evenly with seasoning and oil and roast in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and slightly browned on the edges. Flip the slices at the halfway mark.

While squash is roasting, massage the kale with a gentle rubbing action for a few minutes until the leaves are vibrant green and softer to the touch and set aside in the salad bowl.

Delicata Salad - Massaging Kale

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan on medium heat. Don’t be tempted to walk away or else they might burn. Once they smell toasty and aromatic, remove from the heat and cool slightly. Chop into chunky pieces.

Mix up the dressing by whisking the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard and maple syrup.

Remove the squash from the oven and cool slightly before tossing with the kale, cranberries, hazelnuts, dressing, and goat cheese.

Serving suggestions: works really nicely as a light autumn lunch or next to roasted pork as a gorgeous side salad.