Unless it’s baking pizza, the very bottom rack of my oven seldom gets used.
But thanks to America’s Test Kitchen, I now realize that it’s the perfect position to get deeply browned and caramelized undersides of potatoes, squash, and other veggies.
That’s exactly what I ended up with when making “Roasted Delicata Squash with Smoked Paprika-Herb Sauce” from the new cookbook, “The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook: 500 Inspired, Flexible Recipes for Eating Well Without Meat” of which I received a review copy.
The book, by America’s Test Kitchen, is ideal for anyone, especially those looking to incorporate more plant-based dishes into their diet in this new year. Even if you’re an avowed carnivore, you’ll still find plenty to like, especially if you enjoy these dishes as an accompaniment to whatever meat protein you prefer.
Recipes run the gamut from “Carrot Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal,” “Pinto Bean-Beet Burgers,” and “Creamy Cashew Mac and Cheese” to “Overstuffed Sweet Potatoes with Tofu and Thai Curry,” “Turkish Eggplant Casserole,” and “Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding.”
Delicata squash is one of the easiest winter squashes to work with because its hard skin is thin and relatively easy to cut through with a knife. Of course, you don’t have to peel it, either, as the cooked skin is completely edible.
With green and orange striated grooves all around, delicata look especially pretty, too, when cut into rings or half-rings.
The halved rings are first covered with foil, and roasted on high heat on the lowest rack in the oven, to ensure they cook through, evenly. Then, the foil is removed to cook the squash further, before flipping over the pieces to allow the other side to brown nicely.
An herby, tangy, smoky paprika-laced sauce that couldn’t be easier to make gets drizzled all over just before serving. The zesty sauce would be good on just about any kind of roasted winter squash, as well as roasted carrots or broccoli.
What you end up with are tender, creamy, sweet pieces of squash enlivened with Spanish flair. It’s a wonderful side dish to go with grilled seafood or sausages, or with roast chicken, pork or beef. Or to make it a plant-based main, just spoon it over rice, polenta, couscous or the grain of your choice.
Roasted Delicata Squash with Smoked Paprika-Herb Sauce
(Serves 6 to 8)
For herb sauce:
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or chives
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 delicata squashes (12 to 16 ounces each), ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
4 teaspoons refined coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil or unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon table salt
For the sauce: Stir all ingredients together in bowl; set aside for serving.
For the squash: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash, melted oil, and salt in bowl to coat. Arrange squash in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until squash is tender when pierced with tip of paring knife, 18 to 20 minutes.
Uncover and continue to bake until side touching baking sheet is golden brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Remove squash from oven, and using thin metal spatula, flip slices over. Scatter coconut oil pieces over squash. Return to oven and continue to bake until side touching baking sheet is golden brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Transfer squash to serving platter and drizzle with herb sauce. Serve.
From “The Complete Plant Based Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen
More Winter Squash Recipes to Enjoy: Kabocha Squash Cheesecake with Walnut Crust