eek-y half of this blog has sprung back to life like one of those dormant fern balls soaked in water. It's been a long, solo march to the far poles of the vegetable kingdom this year, but I look forward to moving this blog beyond the kale towards an adventurous eggplant kohlrabi camaraderie (see here if you are confused).
Speaking of going beyond the kale, here is my new obsession--delicata squash rings. Aren't they divine? I should have worn these with some basil earrings and a cranberry bead necklace to my friend's New Year's party. (Instead, I wore striped overalls with a paper tiara and someone told me I looked like I'd just come from jail. Oh well.)
I got the idea of baking whole delicata rings from undergound food network celebrity chef Leif Hedendal while feasting on leftovers from a spectacular dinner he helped cater with sometime co-conspirator and intrepid culinary mover & shaker Nicole LoBue.
Despite being a winter squash, the delicata has a rind that's soft enough to eat and makes for a crisp prelude to its soft, sweetish inside. With some advice from Leif, here is how I made them.
ROASTED DELICATA RINGS
ingredients: delicata squash, olive oil, salt
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Yes, that's very hot.
Wash the squash very well since you and yours will be eating the rind. Slice off the ends and throw them in the compost (yes, it is necessary to have a compost bin to complete this recipe properly). Then slice the squash into 1/2-inch thick rings. I took a paring knife and sliced out the seedy centers from all the rings, but perhaps a more clever way to get the seeds out would be to slice the squash in half crosswise first and dig the entrails out with a long spoon (or chopstick?). This part I did not ask for advice about...
Toss the rings in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat generously and salt to taste. Spread the rings out on a baking pan/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or however long it takes to get the rings to desired crispy-softness without blackening them beyond edibility (salty-crispy outside, soft inside, so good). About halfway through (say 10-12 minutes, you should flip the rings over, if you can be bothered. It's not necessary, but they'll roast more evenly that way.
Your guests will be delighted with this tasty new food for their fingers. I served them alongside a lentil and vegetable soup, a leek tart from the Chez Panisse Vegetables recipe, and raw radish slices with butter for a cozy wintry meal with old friends. The next day, I had some fun stacking the leftovers, as you can see: