Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thinking Outside the (Big)Box

If you were to take a walk through the produce department of your local grocery store, you'd probably find neatly stacked (I would know, I used to stack them -Greg), perfectly uniform towers of various different fruits and vegetables. Apples and oranges, carrots and cucumbers. But unless you're at a specialty grocer, you might not find something that looks like this:

Any ideas what this guy could be? Well, don't feel bad if you don't know; we hadn't heard of delicata squash either until our friend Sarah did a squash taste test a few weeks back and declared delicata the winner. The delicata is frequently referred to as a winter squash, like butternut or acorn, but it's actually more closely related to the zucchini. It came highly recommended, and like other squashes is chock-full of fiber and nutrients like potassium, magnesium and vitamins B & C. With this knowledge in mind, we made a point to keep an eye out for delicata as we shopped.

Fortunately for us, Gateway Market in Des Moines frequently sources produce from local suppliers, and we were able to pick up a few delicata squash that were grown in Murray, Iowa, just about an hour from home. You might remember our adventures in squash cooking haven't been terribly reliable lately, so we decided to keep things simple this time around. It doesn't get much simpler or more classic than slicing in half and removing seeds, throwing in a few pats of butter and some brown sugar, then roasting at 350 F for about an hour. And the result looks so delicious, doesn't it?

Once the squash were cooked, Stacia scooped out the flesh while Greg pan-seared up a couple of pork chops with some rosemary and thyme and whipped up a quick pan sauce. Altogether, it made for a delicious, hearty dinner, perfect for a chilly December evening.

This is one of the most exciting things about growing your own food or shopping locally grown produce. The variety is virtually endless, far beyond the handful of options that are commercially produced. If you go to the store, you'll find tomatoes, but if you leaf through a seed catalog, you can find literally hundreds of different kinds of tomatoes, all with different characteristics: size, shape, color, flavor, texture, etc. Growing food in the garden puts all those choices into your hands, for unrivaled culinary freedom. And you just might discover a flavorful new squash you've never tried before.

When you're able to find such interesting, high-quality ingredients, a simple preparation can lead to a really tasty meal!

1 comment:

  1. I hope you liked the squash as much as I did. I love that we are able to get local produce even after the market closes thanks to Gateway Market. I dream of a year round market.