Roasted Delicata Squash with Avocado Sauce

Good lord, I love the colors this time of year.

There’s a whole lotta green still, but you turn a corner and WHAM, there’s the most brilliant orange lit up in the crisp sunshine.

If you happen to get my personal chef newsletter (ahem shameless plug), you saw that I featured pumpkins this month.  Such a novel idea this time of year; I’m so innovative.

And of course, because I got all into pumpkins, I had to cook some.  Running errands yesterday, I happened to park literally across the sidewalk from a small farmers market, where I saw the most adorable little Delicata squash.  Kismet.

Using the super-simple recipe for Avocado Sauce I recently developed for a client’s dinner party (I can never get enough avocado), the goat cheese still banging around in the fridge, and what I hope isn’t the last of my spicy globe basil, I had a Fall Fantasie on my plate, all orange and green and golden brown.

There happened to be both hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds in the pantry, either of which would have been equally good here.  I chose hazelnuts because I am a creature of free will, and for no other reason.  Yes, I dropped on a few miserly drops of truffle oil.  It didn’t need it, but it did gild the lily.

This dish is so pretty and so flavorful, I can see a long tray of it served at Thanksgiving, but it’s certainly nutritious enough for everyday dining.  Don’t forget to serve it with a little salad and some crusty bread.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Avocado Sauce

Yield: 4 servings, plus extra Avocado Sauce

If you tend to have sensitive skin like I do, you might want to consider donning a pair of rubber or latex gloves while preparing raw winter squash. Delicata might not cause the same reaction, but after cutting a butternut years ago and dealing with "Elmer's glue hands" for a week, I don't take any chances.


    For the Squash:
  • 2 Delicata squash (look for ones that have more orange or yellow color to them)
  • 2 tablespoons softened bacon fat, butter, olive oil, or a combination
  • Salt and black pepper, as needed
  • 5 to 10 bay leaves (optional)
  • For the Avocado Sauce:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Water, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • To finish:
  • Goat cheese (4 to 6 ounces should do it for 4 servings)
  • Toasted and chopped hazelnuts (about 1/4 cup)
  • Fresh basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Truffle oil (optional)


For the Delicata Squash:

1. Preheat oven to 375º F, and position a rack in the middle.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but absolutely prevents any sticking).

3. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds (either roast those separately or discard). Halve the squash with a diagonal cut, and then again, cutting each squash into 8 long triangles. You can, of course, cut it any way you like, as long as the pieces are about the same size.

4. Put the squash on the prepared pan, and rub the pieces with the softened bacon fat (or whatever you're using) until evenly coated. Sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. Scatter the bay leaves around the squash.

5. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, or until browned on the edges and the flesh is soft (check by piercing with a sharp knife; it should meet no resistance). Let cool slightly.

6. While the squash roasts, prepare the Avocado Sauce, and toast and chop the hazelnuts.

For the Avocado Sauce:

1. Roughly chop the avocado and shallot. Purée with 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a small food processor, scraping the sides as needed.

2. While the processor is still running, drizzle in the melted butter. If the sauce looks very thick, add water by tablespoons as needed to thin.

3. The sauce will taste a little flat and tart at this point. Sample it, and add salt, pepper, and/or additional lemon juice to taste. Add a spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream if you have it, and the mood strikes you.

4. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. You may need a spatula to force it through. If making a day or so in advance, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you want a warm sauce, or if it becomes too thick in the fridge, gently heat it in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave on short bursts.

To finish:

1. Put a few pieces of squash on a plate. Spoon some avocado sauce over the top, and crumble the goat cheese over that. Scatter the hazelnuts and basil leaves (torn into small pieces if large) around the plate, and drizzle with olive oil if you like.

2. If using truffle oil, carefully drop on a very few drops (only a VERY FEW please!). The focus isn't truffle here, so please use it judiciously. I'm talking 4 or 5 drops on the whole plate. It's potent stuff.

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

Show of hands: who has a half-full (or empty) jar of tahini banging around the fridge?

I thought so.

I managed to accumulate three (three!), and I’m sick of looking at them.  Here’s a recipe that accomplishes three goals:

1.  It isn’t hummus.

2.  It uses up tahini.

3.  It’s frickin’ awesome.

Warmly spiced, slightly nutty, tangy, full-flavored, and filling.  It’s everything I want soup to be.  Pumpkin seed garnish is optional; crusty bread is not.

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

If you're firmly against using canned pumpkin (why, I have no idea), feel free to use any sort of winter squash, sweet potato, or what-have-you. Me, I'm just trying to get dinner together.


  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or butter or olive oil)
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small), diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (ground or whole seeds)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Serrano chile, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 12 ounces red lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups stock or water
  • 1 cup tahini (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup buttermilk


1. Heat the bacon fat in a large stock pot or Dutch oven, over medium to medium-high heat.

2. Add the diced onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and stir to coat with the fat. While the onion cooks, dice the celery. Add the celery to the pot. Stirring occasionally, cook until just beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare or gather the remaining ingredients.

3. Stir in the curry paste, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, garlic, Serrano, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Take care to not let the spices burn (decrease heat or add a splash of water if necessary to prevent scorching).

4. Add the pumpkin, lentils, and stock, stirring to combine. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook uncovered until the lentils have completely fallen apart, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

5. Remove the bay leaf, and add the tahini. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot until completely smooth. (Alternatively, purée the soup in a blender, being extremely careful when blending any hot liquid.)

6. Stir in the buttermilk. Taste, and correct the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Serve at once, drizzled with a little olive oil if you like.