Delicata Squash with Toasted Squash Seeds and Aleppo Pepper
This easy side dish was inspired by a cold-weather classic from your grandmother’s recipe collection: the twice-baked potato.
Brian Leth, the chef de cuisine at Vinegar Hill House, came up with this easy-to-make dish one day at the height of summer, as he was fantasizing about what he’d like to eat when it got cold again.
The squash gets even sweeter with the maple syrup, but both are balanced and reined in by the two types of pepper, toasted squash seeds, and sea salt. The result? A rich, buttery, deeply satisfying vegetarian entrée that’s inspired by a cold-weather classic from your grandmother’s recipe collection: the twice-baked potato.
Six delicata squash, 3 to 4 inches long, halved lengthwise
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 egg whites
Ground Aleppo pepper or paprika, for garnish
Sea salt, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
2. Scrape the seeds from the squash and place them in a colander. Rinse under cold water to remove as much pulp as you can. Drain, then transfer the seeds to a plate lined with a paper towel and reserve.
3. Peel 6 of the squash halves (the least attractive ones) and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubed squash in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter and season with salt. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and, working in batches, puree the squash with the maple syrup. (You can also use an immersion blender to puree the squash.) Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, pureeing until the mixture is silky smooth and thick. Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. While the squash is cooking, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper. Season the remaining squash halves with salt and pepper and place them cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tender.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F. Toss the reserved squash seeds with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toast the seeds in the oven until they are crispy and aromatic, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the seeds halfway through the cooking time to break them apart.
6. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the cooled squash puree. Spoon the puree into the baked squash halves. Return them to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the puree and the edges of the squash are golden brown.
7. To serve, drizzle each squash half with olive oil and garnish with the toasted seeds, Aleppo pepper or paprika, and sea salt.
Reprinted with permission from The New Brooklyn Cookbook by Melissa Vaughan and Brendan Vaughan. Copyright © 2010 by Melissa Vaughan and Brendan Vaughan. Published by William Morrow Cookbooks.