delicata squashAs a youngster, I never really cared for squash; it was so nondescript when boiled and mashed and usually ended up either too wet or too dry.  That has since changed and I’ve come to enjoy it whether in a salad, casserole or soup.  My kids love my grandmother’s baked squash casserole, however, this is reserved for our Christmas turkey dinner.  There are over 300 varieties of squash and some of the most familiar can be found here.  My baked squash recipe is simple enough to make and the best part is that I don’t have to peel the skin!  Don’t worry about the thickness of the skins, even the thickest can become soft when cooked long enough.  Having said this, there are, two exceptions to consider:  the skin from spaghetti squash is not pleasant to eat and any squash that is extra shiny will most likely be coated in food-grade wax for longevity purposes.  Wax, although edible, is still wax.

When thinking of flavour enhancers for squash, consider sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, browned butter, cheese, bacon, and garlic.  Typically, casseroles can be a bit heavy but my version is lighter and goes well with a salad.

Serves 4 as a side
1 delicata squash (can also use butternut)
2 slices of cooked bacon
4 or 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
garlic clove
1 small apple, cut into quarters
feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350f (180c).

delicata squash tends to have a sweeter flavourWash squash off thoroughly.  Cut ends off and discard.  Slice squash into roughly 1/4-inch rings then use a knife or spoon to remove seeds.  In a frying pan over medium heat, cook bacon.  Remove meat from pan and drain on kitchen towel.  Using the same pan, add a splash of olive oil and add enough squash slices to cover the bottom.  Sauté over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes before turning over.  Repeat this until all slices have been precooked, remove from pan and set aside.  Add spring onions to the pan and sauté until slightly soft, add a splash more olive oil if the pan becomes dry.

delicata squash slicesUsing an 8″x8″ pan, lightly coat the bottom with olive oil and place five or six squash slices on the bottom making sure to slightly overlap.  Scatter bacon pieces over squash slices along with the spring onions.  Add some garlic by using a Microplane followed by an apple slice.  You don’t need much, just enough to add a scent of these flavours.  Lightly crumble, sparingly, feta cheese over the top.  Repeat for the next two or three layers.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top and cover.  Place in oven and bake 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This is even better the next day served slightly warm.  Enjoy!