Care of Laura Wright

TVA_delicata1I could not be happier at the sight of a few striped delicata squashes forming in the garden toward the end of August—and not just because it’s sometimes referred to as “Bohemian Squash.” Along with the teeny apples adorning the trees, this is one of the first waves hello from Autumn. Some sources throw it into the “summer squash” category (along with pattypans and yellow crookneck varieties), and others lump it in with winter squashes like butternut or acorn, but the time to get on these sweet vegetables is right now in early Fall. They hold their shape beautifully when roasted, making them just right for stuffing with lentils, grains or small cuts of vegetables. More often than not, I find myself roasting slices/chunks with salt, pepper, spices etc and tossing the pieces into soups or my kale/grain salads for added texture. The flavour is quite similar to sweet potatoes.

On Picking & Choosing:
You want to select a delicata that is creamy yellow with even dark green striping down its sides. If the hue is veering more towards light green, it isn’t ripe enough. As a general note on squash selection, you should avoid specimens with soft spots, or dull and wrinkled skin on the outer. It should also feel pretty hefty when you pick it up. Once you have one you’re happy with, you can store it in a cool, dry, and dark place for up to three months. Since the skin is quite thin on delicata squash, I don’t even bother to peel it before I cook and for that same reason, it may be worth it to seek out an organically grown one.

Mega-yum Potassium:
Similarly to sweet potatoes, the delicata contains a respectable amount of potassium, that electrolyte-affiliated mineral that is often associated with bananas. One cooked squash contains about 15% of your recommended daily intake. Here’s why you need it: along with sensible lifestyle choices, regular potassium consumption helps to keep blood pressure in check. It also plays a key role in the heart’s very function—assisting with muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve impulses/stimulation. Potassium works in tandem with sodium, so it’s important to maintain a balance there, avoiding highly processed salt-heavy foods.

Beta-Carotene, Beta-Heck-Yeah:
Delicata squashes, along with vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, pack a whole bunch of this antioxidant nutrient that is so, so good for the body. It protects your cells, reduces inflammation, offers a helpful hand to your reproductive system and gives you a big anti-aging boost when consumed with frequency. It’s interesting to note that cooking brings out this nutrient and that it also becomes more bio-available when combined with a healthy fat—drop a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil on some roasted delicata before serving, roast it with some high-heat-tolerant coconut oil or toss cooked pieces with some diced avocado. Tastier and better for your bod too! So many wins.