Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Delicata Squash and Celery Leaf Salad

Ian Knauer uses this sweet, tender winter squash to create a sophisticated salad.

Delicata-Celery Leaf Salad (Photo: Ian Knauer)

Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He worked for ‘Gourmet’ and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook ‘The Farm.’

This time of year I make a butternut squash pizza with some regularity. So much so, that when I had lunch with a friend last week, she made the butternut pizza for me as a sort of joke. Except when she made it, she used delicata squash.

Delicata is not in heavy rotation in my kitchen. I just never think of it. But on the pizza, sliced into rings with the skin still on, it was quite good-looking—prettier than butternut. You see, delicata does not need to be peeled, which makes it easier than butternut. And when I tasted it, the squash was sweeter and creamier than butternut. My friend’s version of my pizza was, hands down, better than my version of my pizza. It got me really thinking about delicata squash.

We think of is as a winter squash since it ripens later in the season than zucchini, and it has a good amount of storability, but in fact delicata is more closely related to summer squash than it is to pumpkin; hence, the chewable skin. And about that skin, if you roast the squash in a hot oven, it gets a little crispy, adding another level of texture to the squash. 

Of course, it’s also great in things other than pizza, like soup or anywhere else you might use butternut. And it’s great on its own, like in a salad.

Last weekend I was walking through my local farmers market and saw a pile of the squash. Feeling inspired by my friend’s better-than-my-own version of pizza, I brought some home to play with. The result is a restaurant-worthy version of a squash salad with red onion and celery leaves, in which the sweetness of the squash is balanced with lemon juice and a little parmesan cheese.

Delicata-Celery Leaf Salad (Serves 2)

1 pound delicata squash

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup celery leaves

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Cut the ends from the squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon, discarding seeds. Cut squash crosswise into rounds, about 1/3 inch thick, then toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil, cumin, coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread squash evenly on a baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, about 25 minutes. Let squash cool.

Toss celery leaves and onion with lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Make stacks of roasted squash, then top with celery mixture and dressing and serve.

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