Even though I love summer weather and spring scenery, fall is invariably one of my favorite seasons. Why? Simple. The food. Cranberries, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are some of my favorite ingredients of all time. Not to mention the fact that they are all nutritional superstars!

So you can imagine the intensity of my elation when I walked into Whole Foods this past Friday. And sitting in front of me. Was the first winter squash harvest of the season!! I danced. I swooned. I almost made out with the Whole Foods produce guy. And a few random customers who just happened to be in the nearby vicinity.

There were acorn squash, butternut squash, kabocha, and spaghetti squash – all shipped in from Vermont and/or Massachusetts (my “home” state!). Instantly, all of my previous dinner plans went out the window. There was no way I was passing up the first of fall’s bounty. But what to make? Instantly, I recalled a recipe for baked winter squash with brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter that I made last year, before the blog, by Paula Deen (one of the few recipes of hers that I can stomach without extreme modification). The sweetness of the syrup mixed with the saltiness of the butter and the starchy, nutty goodness of the squash make this one of my favorite ways to enjoy winter squash.

Okay so now that I had a recipe in mind, I had to pick a squash. I was going to go for kabocha when I spied an unfamiliar type of squash sitting by itself in the corner. Delicata squash, read the label. I shrugged, carefully placed two in my shopping cart, and moved on to the next item on my list.

When I got home, I decided to look into what exactly a delicata squash is, and so I googled it. According to a wide variety of sources, delicata squash is an heirloom squash, meaning that it is a cultivar that was commonly grown during early periods of human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture (thank you Wikipedia..the best source on earth). Thus, they are grown for flavor and not for their ability to be mass-produced and shipped thousands upon thousands of miles away. Can’t argue with that.

Delicata squash is also commonly referred to as sweet potato squash (for its taste), peanut squash (for its shape), and/or bohemian squash (because it owns a studio in the West Village, only smokes organic herbal cigarettes, and is a self-proclaimed starving artist). It has a creamy pulp that tastes like a cross between sweet potatoes and corn. The skin is very thin and is thus edible. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of NYC in 1894 and was popular throughout the 20s. It then fell into obscurity for 75 years and is only now becoming popular again. Although it can be grown year-round, it peaks between late summer and early fall.

Seeing as how I am on a mission this year to try as many different winter squash varieties as I can get my hands on, I was certainly grateful to have found this.

I am submitting this recipe to this month’s Monthly Mingle, which is being hosted over at Jugalbandi, the theme of which is heirloom recipes!
Baked Heirloom Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter
Serves 4, adapted from Paula Deen

2 delicata squash (they totaled 2 1/2 lb)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp and the seeds and discard. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup until the brown sugar has dissolved. Rub the squash cavities and cut sides of the squash with the butter mixture and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake until they are tender and pierced easily with a fork (depends on what kind of squash you used – these took about 30 minutes). Serve 1 half per person.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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26 Responses to Monthly Mingle – Baked Heirloom Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter

  1. Amy says:

    I probably don’t share your love of Fall, since snow and sub-zero temps immediately follow it. Nah, I do love it. The colors, the slight chill in the air, and time to break out my soft sweaters…

    I love squash also and have tried experimenting with different varieties. I made an awesome wild rice stuffed acorn squash dish for Thanksgiving that was an enormous hit. And I tried spaghetti squash for the first time last year.

    I’ve never heard of delicata before, but will search for that. Smothered in butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup? Really? My mouth is watering.

  2. rena says:

    YUM! One of my favorite foods!

  3. Mari says:

    I also love the fall, I think it might be my favorite season…

    “I danced. I swooned. I almost made out with the Whole Foods produce guy” this made me crack up! and I’m at work lol

  4. Palidor says:

    Squash with brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter? Never had it, but with all those delicious ingredients, you definitely can’t go wrong! Thank you for teaching us about delicata squash. I had never heard of it either. Did it taste like sweet potato?

  5. Debinhawaii says:

    I hope the WF produce guy was at least kinda cute! This looks delicious. I have only had delicata once and liked it. I’ll keep an eye out for some here.

  6. Megan says:

    You are really going for a squash theme this week, aren’t you? I love it!

    Baked squash is one of our favorites – but I have to stick with the standard varieties. Not too many unusual types here.

  7. Sweet. So sweet. Never thought to put sugar and butter on it, but why not. You could make some kind of funky dessert out of this!

  8. What a great looking squash. I haven’t seen them here either, but I will definitely be on the lookout for them. I do love the brown sugar application – so yummy and autumny.
    Today I noticed how many trees had started dropping leaves. That I was actually crunching as I walked!

  9. Kerstin says:

    Fall is my favorite season too! I love the slight chill in the air and of course, all the amazing fall foods! I’m going to try and branch out and try new kinds of squash this year too. Love this sweet treat!

  10. Pam says:

    I love fall and I love this recipe! I can’t wait for my CSA to start bringing in the winter squash!

  11. I’ve never had delicata! It looks so yummy!! I love the sweet way you cooked it.

  12. Maris says:

    Joanne, I just found your blog from Kalyn’s Kitchen and am so glad I did! i live in NYC too and it’s so hard to eat REAL food that’s low in calories. I’m super impressed with your weight loss. I lost a lot of weight after college, have since gained it back and am trying to lose again. I want to do WW but the first time around I ate so many chemicals, so much fake food, artificially sweetened this, sugar-free that and I definitely don’t want to do that again!

    Can’t wait to follow along with your recipes!

  13. bee says:

    i will look out for this variety next time. thanks for this delicious entry.

  14. Elra says:

    Simply delicious Joanne!!!!!

  15. Kim says:

    Don’t you love trips to Whole Foods? I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who gets so excited while grocery shopping 😀 You cooked a Paula Deen recipe and it’s actually pretty healthy!! Sounds delish!

  16. gaga says:

    I guess summer is over, huh? This recipe looks like a great way to celebrate fall. Yum!

  17. Shannon says:

    i can’t wait to buy my first squash 🙂 hopefully this year i’ll try kabocha!

  18. Donna-FFW says:

    You should just gone for it and made out with the supermarket guys.. didnt I teach you well enough yet? always go forit.. you know the I Hope You Dance song, next time dance;)

    Squash sounds fantastic btw.

  19. Johanna says:

    Now this is the bohemian squash I want to meet – hilarious! I have only come across this squash once and made soup but next time I think I need to try this way of baking it – sounds delicious

  20. great dish; I love heirloom squashes too.

  21. MeetaK says:

    wow! a simple yet totally flavorful dish. i love it. thanks for taking part in the monthly mingle!

  22. Cynthe Brush says:

    Delicatas are common at our local Sonoma county CA farmers markets and pretty easy to grow in your own garden, if you’re the gardening sort. They are fairly short vines and produce 4-6 squash each. Easy to grow vertically on a twine trellis to save space.

    All that said…Delicatas & hybrids related to them (like ‘Sweet Dumplings’) are my all time FAV squashes – delicious & naturally sweet (even w/o sweeting additions), flavorful, tender skin, quick to cook. What more could a squash lover want?

    Joanne ~ Thanks for introducing your readers to this wonderful heirloom veggie!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to try making this the way I cook acorn squash: fill the cavity with butter and then put in applesauce. Top the applesauce with a little cinnamon and brown sugar and bake as Joanne suggests but, at the last minute, broil a bit to make it crusty and brown.

  24. Cleo Pascal says:

    Splendid, Joanne. You were able to come up with a delectable recipe from a rather unfamiliar type of squash. I myself never let a month pass by without healthy stuff like squashes. I’m bookmarking this recipe! Recently, I encountered articles about holistic health and healing and it includes eating minimally-processed foods.

    Natural health and healing lifestyle is just as becoming popular as sticking to a healthy diet.

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