Although delicata is typically considered a winter squash variety, it actually belongs to the same species as summer squash varieties like cousa, zucchini, pattypan, etc. The delicata squash is sometimes referred to as a sweet potato squash or a peanut squash. It's delicate flesh can be eaten- there is no need to peel the fruit. However, this squash does not store quite as well as heartier varieties like acorn and butternut. The long shape of this squash makes it ideal for stuffing or for slicing into thin rings to be roasted.
Delicata squash, like all winter squashes, is a good source of carotenoids, nutrients that improve night vision and eye health. As vision acuity often decreases with age, it is particularly important for seniors to get enough dietary carotenoids. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, and can decrease the risk of certain cancers. Additionally, squash contains a high amount of vitamin C, which plays an important role in immune function and disease prevention.
When peeling winter squash, it is much easier to remove it after it has been baked. The roasting process of the squash allows the skin to lift off in the oven. Otherwise, the process can be quite difficult and tedious. If peeling before baking is necessary for your recipe, a sharp potato peeler should do the trick, but may yield less squash than the former method.
Winter Squashes have a light, sweet, slightly nutty flavor and can be added to almost any recipe. Adding certain spices can change the taste of your squash to one that coincides with the taste of your main dish. Winter squash is a versatile cucurbit that can be used for soups, smoothies, stuffed in mushrooms, or a simple side dish.
If you are interested in saving the seeds, you can prepare them in the same way you would prepare pumpkin seeds. After cleaning them with water, these seeds are best when tossed with a little bit of oil and seasoning. Feel free to use salt, or even spice it up with some chili powder, or wasabi powder. These seeds can be eaten after they’re cooked, but are also a clever garnish for winter squash recipes.
Storing & Cooking Information
Handling: Wash the squash and peel only if desired.
Storing: Winter squash will last 3-6 months stored at room temperature in a dry and cool (50-55 degrees) but not cold location.
Freezing: Cook the squash until soft, scoop out the flesh, pack in freezer containers, label, and place in the freezer.