Winter Squash Tutorial: Delicate Delicata Squash

Winter squash is here for the duration. Stunning autumn colors piled high in huge containers everywhere. There are so many to choose from. I thought it would be fun to explore a few of my favorite varieties. In my Seasonal Chef column I’ve done a couple of fun recipes using delicata squash. One of my favorites is Delicata Squash, Kale and Quinoa salad, and a video making it. Last year I created a Delicata Squash Lasagna.

delicata squash

So why do we like winter squash?  It’s is a great source of vitamin A, C and iron, and is low in calories and contains no fat. A very healthy vegetable indeed! Hard skinned squash dates back thousands of years. Archeologists found stems, skins, and seeds of squashes in Mexico carbon dating them between 7,000 and 5,000 BCE. As with most winter squashes look for an unblemished skin and a little heaviness. If it’s cracked or soft put it down. Store them in a cool dry spot in the basement.

IMG_6061

Delicata is a fun squash because it’s very versatile. You can roast, sauté or stuff them. They are also one of the few winter squashes that have an edible skin when cooked, similar to the acorn squash. The flesh inside is not overly dense, so it cooks pretty quickly.

I had only one delicata squash left in my pantry this weekend, and decided to give it a try in a quiche recipe. I make quiches quite a lot for my clients. It’s a great vehicle for a variety of fillings, and sure to please everyone. Almost exclusively I use the same two recipes, for the crust and the filling.

homemade crust

My crust comes from Martha Stewart. It’s her basic pie crust recipe. Works every single time. Just follow the recipe and you can’t go wrong. The only thing I do differently is pop it in the freezer to speed things up.

delicata squash quiche

My second go-to recipe is for the liquid part of the filling. That comes from Emeril Lagasse. His combination of egg and half and half makes the perfect texture. The rest is up to my creativity.

delicata squash quiche

For this recipe I sautéed red onion and garlic with the delicata squash. Then added a mixture of fresh herbs.

Delicata Squash Quiche

The result was a smashing success. Just a few extra comments: This entire recipe can be made in a food processor, if that strikes your fancy. You just need to wash the bowl in-between steps. That means the crust, slicing the vegetables, shredding the cheese and even mixing the egg. Second, is to alternate the cheese and filling. I divide the cheese in three parts and the filling is layered in-between. That allows for a nice distribution throughout. Last, I always make my quiches the day before. I think the slow cooling down and overnight rest allows it to set up beautifully. It’s not entirely necessary, but I think a plus.

I hope you give this one a try. It’s a fun and different way to use delicata squash.

Buon Appetito!

 

Delicata Squash Quiche
Makes one quiche. If you go with a premade crust, which is perfectly acceptable, head down to Step 4.

Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water

Filling

1 delicata squash, about 1 1/4 lb, cut lengthwise and seeds scooped out
1 small red onion, trimmed, and cut in half through the root end, and sliced thin
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Canola oil
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
4 whole eggs
4 yolks
2 1/2 cups half and half
5 oz manchego cheese, grated
2 tablespoons of parsley, sage and thyme, minced

1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Slowly drizzle the water in with the machine running. As soon as it comes together stop the machine. Form dough into a disk 3/4 inch thick; wrap tightly in plastic. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
3. Place the dough on a lightly surface rolling from center outward, form into a 14-inch round. Carefully fold in half and then a quarter and place in a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit dough into bottom and sides of plate. Using kitchen shears, trim overhang to 1 inch; fold under to form a rim and crimp with your fingertips. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375.
4. Cut the squash halves into 2 or 3 pieces and with the slicing attachment on your food processor slice the squash. Then slice the onion, if desired.
5. Saute the onion and garlic with 3 tablespoons of canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the squash in 2 batches and cook until slightly soft. Seasoning after each addition and adding a bit more oil if needed. Place on a sheet to cool.
6. While you are sautéing blind bake the crust for 15 minutes using pie weights. Remove and cool.
7. With a hand mixer blend the eggs, half and half, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
8. Place 1/3 of the cheese in the bottom of the shell top with half of the squash-onion and sprinkle with a few teaspoons of the herbs. Repeat another cheese-vegetable-herb layer. End with the remaining cheese and herbs. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and carefully pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.
9. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and it feels slightly solid to the touch. Remove and allow the quiche to cool for about 2 hours. Cooling the quiche will allow it to set up. Rewarm before serving.

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