Roasted Delicata Squash with Pepita-Dried Cherry Stuffing

Roasted Delicata Squash with Dried Cherry-Pepita Stuffing

Fall is a season of transitions. The weather is growing cooler, the days shorter, and while we haven’t yet put away the grill, cooking and entertaining are shifting away from the patio and into the cozy warmth of the kitchen.

Delicata squashes at rest

Delicata squashes at rest

So say goodbye to summer (it’ll be back next year) and celebrate the change of seasons with these roasted rounds of delicata squash, filled with a sweet & savory stuffing.

While you could use any small squash or pumpkin, we prefer the tender texture, slightly sweet, mild flavor and striking appearance of the delicata squash. Sliced into stout segments and sitting perkily upright on the plate, this handsome squash makes a delicious and appealing change from the usual fare.

Delicata squash, with a characteristic cylindrical shape and green and orange stripes, has a delicate, edible skin which doesn’t need peeling, as its name implies. But it’s not only delicious and good-looking; the delicata squash is an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium, with significant amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium and manganese.

The pale flesh of the delicata squash is firm, but quite mild, having more in common with the flavor of summer squashes like zucchini than orange-fleshed winter squashes. It easily takes on the flavors of accompanying ingredients, and, as in this recipe, provides a charming container for a hearty stuffing chock-full of the flavors and textures of the fall harvest.

You could, of course, simply halve them lengthwise and stuff them like “boats,” but cutting them into chunky segments makes it easy to serve one (as an appetizer), two (as a side dish) or three or more (as an entree) – and frankly, we prefer the way they look.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Pepita-Dried Cherry Stuffing

The mild flavor of delicata squash is enhanced by the addition of green pumpkin seeds, commonly known by their Latin American name, pepitas. While all pumpkins have seeds, there’s no need to laboriously peel away a hard, white shell to get to the kernel inside – pepitas come from pumpkins that produce seeds that are naturally hull-less. Popular in both Latin American and European cuisines, green pumpkin seeds are consumed as snacks, as ingredients in traditional dishes and are pressed to produce a deep green, flavorful oil, a specialty of the Austrian region of Styria. We’ve used both the pumpkin seed itself and the rich-tasting oil in this recipe, adding a fall-like flavor and aroma that is out of this world good.

Toasted pepitas

Toasted pepitas

  • 2 delicata squash, about 1 lb each
  • 2 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups day-old bread, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), divided
  • 2 Tbsp roasted & peeled piquillo peppers, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Roasted pumpkin seed oil (optional)

Cut the ends off each squash and cut into 4 pieces of roughly equal length. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Place the cut squash rounds on an oiled or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Filled Delicata squash rounds

Filled delicata squash rounds

Put 1 teaspoon of butter into a small saute pan over medium high heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and reduce heat to medium. Toast the seeds, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown and become fragrant. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread cubes onto a sheet pan and slide them into the oven for about 10 minutes or until dry and lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and put into a large bowl.

Put 3 tablespoons of the butter into a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring frequently until they soften and turn translucent.

Add the onions to the bowl with the toasted bread cubes, along with the thyme, dried cherries, 1/2 cup of the toasted pepitas, diced piquillo peppers and parsley. Stir to combine ingredients. Mix the beaten egg and stock together and pour over the bread cube mixture, gently stirring until everything is slightly moistened. If too dry, mix in a little more stock. Season with salt and pepper and stir once more.

Fill the squash rounds with the stuffing mixture, pressing it in gently and mounding up the top slightly. Slip into the oven to roast until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 45 minutes to an hour. If the tops begin to get too dark, cover with an aluminum foil “tent.”

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with some of the remaining toasted pepitas and finish with a drizzle of the roasted pumpkin seed oil, if using.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Dried Cherry-Pepita Stuffing closeup

Roasted Delicata Squash with Dried Cherry-Pepita Stuffing


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