How to Cook Delicata Pumpkin You’ll Actually Love

How to Cook Delicata Pumpkin You’ll Actually Love
Photo: Claire Lower

Everyone loves a butternut pumpkin — and why wouldn’t they? Thanks to the word “butter,” even the name sounds enticing. They are, however, a bit of a pain in the butt(ernut). They’re hard to chop, hard to peel, and require at least 40 minutes of oven time to soften after all of that peeling and chopping.

Delicata pumpkin is a very different experience, though. It’s easy to chop, doesn’t need to be peeled, and can be sautéed into submission in about 15 minutes, depending on how thinly you slice it. It’s so accommodating that you can eat it for breakfast. (I think “breakfast pumpkin” should be “a thing.”)

Even better, it has a flavour that is very similar, if not identical, to the popular butternut. Some — like Modern Farmer — even refer to it as the “sweet potato pumpkin” for “its brown sugar flavour…like a cross between fresh corn and pumpkin pie.” Doesn’t that sound dreamy?

There are three primary ways I like to cook delicata pumpkin on busy evenings. It’s technically a summer pumpkin because of when it’s planted, but I’ve just started to harvest the little stripey guys from my garden, which means you should be able to find them in your local grocery store with ease. Look for unblemished squashed with firm, smooth skin.

Sauté em

The quickest, easiest way to prepare the delicata pumpkin is to rinse it, halve it vertically, scoop out the seeds, and slice it into thin half-rings. Season with salt and pepper, melt your favourite fat in a pan, and cooke over medium-high heat until the pumpkin is soft and browned. Turn off the heat and finish with finely grated parmesan cheese.

Roast ‘em

Prepare the pumpkin as described above, but keep the half-moon shapes a little thicker — about 1/4-inch. Toss with olive or vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 170 degrees Celsius for 25-30 minutes until the pumpkin starts to soften and the skin puckers. Eat as a side, or toss with pasta, rice, or some sort of hearty autumn salad.

Stuff ‘em

When sliced (vertically) and scooped, the delicata takes on the form of a little boat, perfect for stuffing with grains, meat, and/or cheese. Pre-roast the pumpkin boats at 220 degrees Celsius until they are softened and charred on the edges, about 30 minutes, remove from the oven and stuff with your delicious stuff, then return them to the oven for a final 10 minutes to melt any cheese and meld the ingredients into one complete bite.

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