How to Cook Delicata Squash

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We bet you know butternut, but have you met delicata squash? This unique winter squash has a lot to offer in terms of nutrition (and deliciousness). Scroll on down to learn how it does your body good and how to cook it to perfection.

Delicata squash

What is Delicata Squash?

Delicata squash is cream-colored and oblong-shaped. It’s easily recognizable by its dark green (sometimes orange) stripes on the outside and orangey-yellow flesh inside. Although it varies in size, delicata squash is smaller than its fellow winter squash counterparts and typically maxes out around 12 inches in length.

Another reason delicata squash stands out from other winter squash varieties is because of its delicate, edible rind (hence the name delicata). Technically, all squash rinds are edible, but delicata has the thinnest skin of the bunch. You won't need to wrangle with a peeler before whipping up your delicata, and you also don't need to cook the heck out of it to soften the skin. That means easier prep work for you, AND you get to enjoy fruit + veg skin that’s packed with fiber and nutrients — it’s a win-win. Not to mention, delicata squash is gorgeous. You get to put some beauty on your plate by way of fruits + veggies.

Delicata squash is planted in the late spring and grows throughout the summer (like other winter squash). It takes about three months to mature and is ready for harvest by early fall. We call delicata and its winter squash besties "winter squash" because they have a longer storage life than summer squash. Winter squash can be kept for several of the "brrr" months.

Although, one caveat about delicata squash is that its delicate rind has a slightly shorter storage life than other winter squash varieties and should be eaten within two months or so of harvest. So maybe early winter squash is more like it?

Delicata Squash Nutrition

Delicata squash has SO much offer when it comes to nutrition. In general, winter squash is a good source of dietary fiber, a unique type of carbohydrate that the body doesn’t digest. Fiber is important for maintaining gut health and can help manage cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Most people don’t eat enough fiber, so enjoying delicata squash is a great way to help meet your fiber needs.

Delicata squash also delivers potassium, which is another nutrient we commonly lack in our diets. Potassium is a mineral that’s essential for regulating heart beat, blood pressure, cellular fluid balance, and muscle contractions—all vital functions of life. One serving of winter squash (about a heaping cup’s worth) gets you nearly 10% of your daily value for potassium.

Delicata squash being packed

Delicata squash is also brimming with antioxidant nutrients, like vitamin C. Vitamin C is a known antioxidant that helps keep cells healthy and can help prevent cell damage. In addition, vitamin C is used to make collagen, a protein that’s crucial for maintaining strong skin.

Another antioxidant nutrient found in delicata squash? Vitamin A. The orange-yellow flesh that winter squash is known for comes from a pigment called beta carotene, which is a form of provitamin A—meaning that once consumed, beta carotene converts to vitamin A. Cooking beta carotene-packed veggies with a little fat (I.E. olive oil) aids in the process by helping your body absorb vitamin A more easily. Pretty convenient, seeing as roasted squash is one of the most delicious ways to enjoy this veg.

How to Cook Delicata Squash

While eating raw delicata squash isn't the craziest thing, delicata really shines when it's cooked, and in particular, when it's roasted. The best thing about roasting delicata squash? It's super easy.

To roast delicata squash, start by preheating your oven to 425°F. Give your squash a rinse (we want it squeaky clean so we can eat that delicate skin) and trim off the ends.. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, then spoon out the seeds and inner strings. Clean and save the seeds, or toss them into compost.

Next, make crosswise cuts on each half of the squash to create one-inch half moons. Toss the squash in olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt and/or your preferred spices. Arrange the half-moons on a baking sheet and pop 'em in the oven. After 10-15 minutes, flip the squash and roast the other side for another 10 minutes until tender — easy peasy.

Important Notes: Unless otherwise noted, nutrition information is sourced from USDA FoodData Central and reflects the reference amount customarily consumed. These are standardized servings and not necessarily the amount present in the highlighted Daily Harvest recipes. Nutrition information for Daily Harvest products can be found on packages and under "Nutrition Facts" for each product at "dailyharvest.com". Vitamin and mineral functions are sourced from Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.