Charred Delicata Squash Fingers with The Usual
Paula: Autumn has officially arrived, so I assume you’re splashing your face with Pumpkin Spice After Shave, and lighting an Apple Cobbler Yankee Candle each evening.
Scott: You know me too well [sips a Pumpkin Chai Soy Latte, adjusts turtleneck].
Paula: Speaking of turtlenecks, it’s especially fun to fire up dinner now that the evenings are delightfully cool. In fact, I become downright giddy when pyramids of pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash appear in the market. Delicata Squash is my favorite variety, because you don’t have to peel it. In fact, the skin is arguably the most delicious part after it becomes crispy and caramelized over a charcoal fire.
Scott: Exactly. Grilling vegetables produces some of the most deliciously complex flavors. If only people had a super easy, low risk way to discover the flavor-bomb that is a perfectly grilled veggie.
Paula: Wish granted, your squash superhero has arrived! The following two-step process for grilling fingers of delicata (I usually slice them into half moons, but these hefty strips are easier to wrangle on the grill), is an easy-peasy way to enjoy the season’s bounty. First, toss the squash in a seasoned herb oil and char it directly on the grates. (Crucial bit of info: do not discard the herb oil that’s left in the bowl.) Then, finish the cooking in a cast iron skillet under a blanket of Parmesan. That tasty seasoned oil is drizzled over the squash and into the skillet, where it will sizzle and create delicious crusty edges.
Scott: [Cleans palate with a light melon sorbet, adjusts turtleneck]
Paula: You can serve this cheesy sensation family-style, directly from the skillet (use a trivet or you may find yourself in divorce court). The grilled squash makes a fun knife-and-fork side with grilled steak or chicken, or it can stand alone as a main course alongside grain salad (quinoa, barley), steamed rice, or grilled bread. Have you cued “Autumn Leaves” yet? Have you already penciled this into your Thanksgiving menu?
Charred Delicata Squash Fingers with Parmesan & Thyme
For reasons mentioned above, delicata is our go-to for this recipe. However, you can also use an equal amount of acorn (its skin is also tasty when roasted) or peeled butternut or kabocha squash.
To add extra crunch, top the squash fingers with garlic bread crumbs or roasted salted pepitas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
2 delicata squash
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of The Usual
1 tablespoon chopped thyme, marjoram or sage leaves (optional)
½ cup grated Parmesan
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking, and build a medium fire, or heat a gas grill to medium-high.
Meanwhile, trim the ends from the squash, slice in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds (a grapefruit spoon makes quick work of this job). Place the squash halves cut-side down on a cutting board, and slice each half into 4-5 fingers. Place the squash fingers in a large bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to generously coat, sprinkle with The Usual and thyme, if using, and use your hands to combine the mixture until the squash is evenly coated.
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, use tongs to place the squash over direct heat (do not discard the oil), laying them perpendicular to the grates, close grill and cook until the squash is charred on two sides, turning as needed (and covering the grill in between), about 5 minutes total.
Transfer the squash to a cast iron skillet, drizzle with the reserved olive oil and top with Parmesan cheese. Place the skillet over indirect heat, close grill and continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about 10 more minutes.
You know we love an excuse to fire up the grill, but this recipe can also be cooked in the oven at the same temperature.