As you may already know, I came to be associated with Early Morning Farm through being a member for this last season. Not wanting to waste the delicious food we’d be receiving, my girlfriend and I took it upon ourselves to build habits that would ensure that we not only would make use of all of our produce but would also lead to delicious new discoveries in the kitchen. We like to cook on Sunday afternoons, and we’ve gotten so good at it that we can prepare meals for an entire week in just a few hours–and use our entire CSA share to boot!
It is my intention with this new series of recipes (‘Putting Your CSA Share to Work’) to not only share delectable recipes for dishes you can easily make from your CSA share, but to give you an insight into how we tackle the food we’re given and perhaps a few ideas of your own on how to make a CSA share fit your lifestyle. There are so many great things you can do with your CSA share, so let’s get started!
When I’m cooking I like to start by selecting my key ingredients and brainstorming from there. I usually will consult my two mainstay resources for guidance: the Joy of Cooking and everyone’s best friend, the internet. After I’ve come up with a reasonable idea of what I want to do I try to find three or four different recipes and compare them. I owe most of my cooking knowledge to my mother (don’t we all?) and have inherited her approach — which entails eye-ball measuring, rough estimates and most importantly, the taste test.
It’s a fluid and intuitive way of cooking that frees you from feeling bound to any one recipe and opens the door for experimentation. I find that the more I cook and experiment, the more I understand how flavors and ingredients work together and consequently my dishes improve. This approach proved to be invaluable when dealing with a CSA share, for the diverse array of vegetables we encounter as CSA members forces us to be innovative in the kitchen. So don’t feel constrained by this recipe — alter and improve it as you see fit!
One of the great things about delicata squash is how incredibly sweet and buttery they taste when ripe. As one person here on the farm has commented ‘a ripe delicata tastes just like pancakes and syrup’, and while that might be a little bit of a stretch, it isn’t far from the truth. This dish does a wonderful job of balancing out sweet and savory flavors to create a pleasingly complex taste that would perform phenomenally as the entree at a brunch, or even as a ‘breakfast-for-dinner’ style of meal.
2 delicata squash
3-4 arugula leaves, chopped
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2lb honey ham, diced
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
Pre-heat oven to 375. Cut the delicata squash into halves and scoop out the seeds. The stem can be tough to split, but if you start your cut at the base of the squash and slice laterally you will have a much easier time getting past the stem. Place the halved squash on a baking sheet, face-up (I prefer to cover my baking sheets in parchment paper when roasting, as it makes clean-up a snap). Once your oven is heated, roast the squash for 30-40 minutes — until you can easily stick a fork all the way
through the squash.
Chop your arugula, onion, ham and garlic. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high burner and when it is ready add your onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, stirring regularly. The garlic will burn easily, so keep an eye on the pan and stir with enough frequency to keep from searing the garlic. Combine cooked onion & garlic with the arugula & ham and set aside until delicata has finished roasting.
Scoop out the roasted delicata. You should be able to scrape all the way down to the inside of the skin and remove all of the flesh of the squash with ease — but be careful not to tear the skin! You can leave the skins on the baking sheet, as you will be using it again in the next step. In a mixing bowl, combine squash, egg and ricotta cheese. Once the batter is smooth, add in the ham, arugula, onions & garlic. Lastly, season with salt & pepper to your taste
Fill the delicata skins with the batter, mounding as necessary. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake for 45-50 minutes — it’s done when the skin of the squash can be cut by a fork.
Let cool for 5 minutes. Once the squash have cooled, drizzle with maple syrup and serve.