Delicata squash is definitely a “gateway squash” for the squash skeptics out there. You know, people who believe that winter squash/gourds are best used as front porch decorations or tablescapes and cringe at the idea of roasting acorn squashes to like…to eat. Yes, I was one of them until I tried delicata squash roasted in the method I’m sharing in the post. No mushy, waterlogged or bland vegetables here! By thinly slicing and boldly seasoning these squash slices, you get something that’s solidly snackable – sweet, spicy, tangy and a bit crispy with minimal effort. Delicata are also smaller and easier to cut than butternut and acorn squash so those of you with less than stellar knives don’t have to break a sweat! This is a recipe for squash fans and skeptics alike.
An American Gem Once Again
Delicata squash is native to America but was nearly whipped out by a virulent mildew disease after the Great Depression. It has been growing in popularity in the US ever since Cornell scientists cultivated and introduced a disease resistant variety in the early 2000s. Though I’d seen these diminutive squash in stores, I paid them no mind until one of my favorite bloggers, Heidi Swanson,sang their praises. She pointed out that you don’t have to peel them (yay!) and that their skin actually crisps up when you roast them and you can get golden browned slices. It sounded promising. So I researched more and even saved a couple of recipes, but I wasn’t ready yet…
Cape Cod Chips: aka The Push I Needed
I like a good kettle chip and for a brief moment in time, Cape Cod Chips made a waffle cut Seasoned Pepper chip that was marvelous. It had a garlicky, black pepper seasoning that was a bit tangy and sweet. If I had a chip ranking system, this would be a 99/100. Sadly, not enough people agreed or something, because when I returned to restock, it was gone, never to be seen again. Back in 2015, as I walked down the chip aisle, dejected after not finding my beloved discontinued snack, I had the idea of creating my own version of these flavors with roasted sweet potato, then I remembered the “delicata fries” recipe I pinned and decided to give it a try.
For the seasonings, I kept the black pepper, garlic powder from the chips and added smoked paprika and a bit of chipotle powder. The chips also had some type of acidity in the seasoning, which I wanted to incorporate. I thought of squeezing on lime juice at the end, but wanted the squash to stay crispy so that wouldn’t work. Instead, I tried sprinkling lime juice on the slices BEFORE roasting so that the citrus flavor would soak into the squash. It worked like a charm!
A Delicata Squash Evangelist is Born
“But how are were they really?” you ask. Well, I ate nearly a whole squash straight from the pan. The edges become a bit crispy and chewy and the squash caramelizes and sweetens with plenty of brightness and a bit of heat from the lime and chili. It’s a winning combo that I basically reverse-engineered from people who are in business of make snacks addictive. A bonus is that this dish is actually good for you. Shh! I never thought discontinued junk food would inspire me to try and love a new vegetable, but that’s the story.
Once while squash picking in Whole Foods, a woman asked me what to do with them and if they were any good. I spent the next 5 minutes walking her through this recipe and showing her squash pics on my phone. She walked away with one. For that moment, my job was done, but now I’m here hoping you too will give these guys a try.
Pepper & Lime Roasted Delicata Squash
Thin slices of squash are marinated in lime and roasted into crispy, sweet and tangy nuggets that are great as a snack, side dish or salad addition.
You’ll need to arrange these in a single layer on sheet pans to ensure these brown and crisp. If they don’t all fit on 1 pan, use a 2nd pan or bake them in two batches.
As written, a serving is 1 point on WW Blue/Freestyle.
- 1.5-2 lbs delicata squash (1 medium or 2 small)
- 1 lime (juice and zest)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 or 2 large sheet pans (9 x 13 or larger)
- cutting board
- chef’s knife (or similar)
- mixing bowl (to hold sliced squash)
- microplane/zest (optional for the lime zest)
- metal spoon ( a soup spoon works well)
- small bowl or cup (optional to mix spices)
- Rinse and dry squash and lime. Zest the lime (remove the green skin with the microplane) and set aside
- Lay the squash on the cutting board and cut in half lengthwise. I find it easiest to start with my knife in a groove in the squash.
- Scoop out the seeds and soft inner membrane and discard.
- Place squash halves flat side down and cut into 1/3 inch slices
- Add slices to the bowl. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of half a lime over the squash moving them around in the bowl to make sure all slices get a bit of lime juice. You can squeeze juice from the 2nd half if needed. They should look moistened but with no excess juice in the bowl. Let them sit for about 10 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl or dry spot on your cutting board oven.
- After the 10 minutes of soaking, add the spice mix and 1 tablespoon of oil to the bowl of squash and mix everything together with you hands until all the slices appear coated.
- Arrange the slices in a single layer on the baking sheet(s)facing the same direction to maximize space. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- At 10 minutes, flip them over for even browning and them roast for another 10 minutes. They will have shrunk at this point so you don’t have to worry about lining them up again. Lazy tip: You can also just let them go for 10 minutes without flipping. They won’t be evenly browned but will still taste great.
- Take them out of the oven and sprinkle with lime zest. Enjoy!