It’s life’s little discoveries and epiphanies from which I derive great satisfaction. I still remember when I made the connection between Target and its eponymous logo. I remember because it wasn’t very long ago. Or the time I discovered that the big pot of ‘green garlic’ I inherited last year was actually a variety of non-flowering tulip. I remember because I put tulips in my omelet, and it turns out most people consider tulips inedible. My stomach agreed with that assessment.
More recently, after years of roasting and sautéing Brussels sprouts, I had a Brussels sprouts awakening at a restaurant in San Diego. I ate two orders just to be sure, but now I know that the fast track to addictive Brussels sprouts involves frying them in pork fat, and serving them with lots of cheese and, of course, more pork.
We’ll save the Brussels sprouts for another day, because last Tuesday was the day I had an epiphany while standing alone in my kitchen with a delicata squash. Doing so is hardly an unusual event, given my love of winter squash and decorative gourd season. As its name suggests, the delicata squash is delicate. Its skin, unlike the skin of most winter squash, is edible. A medium delicata squash is the perfect size for one person, unlike many monstrous winter gourd specimens.
The funny thing about delicata squash is that I’ve only ever seen them cut into little half moons. The half moons are lovely and the textural contrast between crunchy skin and soft flesh is appetizing, but why is it that everyone – from prep cooks and home cooks to fancy chefs and cooking instructors – thinks the delicata is an one-trick squash?
Alone in my kitchen with the delicata squash, I went rogue. I rotated that squash 90 degrees and sliced it into long, lithe spears. Tossed with warming spices and roasted at high heat, the squash fries emerged from the oven caramelized and slightly crispy on the outside with soft, creamy interiors. Dipped into a quick Sriracha mayo (with homemade Sriracha and homemade mayo!), the long delicata spears were nothing short of a minor miracle.