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lunchbox squash

At a recent dinner party, I watched as the hostess, my friend Kathryn, put the finishing touches on some halibut before sliding it into the oven. On the stovetop sat a cookie sheet with little orange half moons on them. “Roasted delicata squash. Try one,” she said, popping one into her mouth. “They taste like candy.”

I generally have a low regard for people who describe vegetables of any kind as tasting like candy. Vegetables never taste as good as candy. To think otherwise is to delude oneself. And we can really do harm when we say as much to a child, for whom candy sits at the very tippy top of the pyramid of childhood pleasures, teetering precariously atop the Nerf guns and cap-less Sharpie pens. I once told Finn that some roasted cauliflower tasted as good as candy, and that poor trusting little bastard put the piece in his mouth, apparently believing me. That incident set me back six months in his omnivore training.

But back to Kathryn. Having grown up on a farm, she knows her vegetables. And she wouldn’t lie to me. So I picked up a little half moon and chewed on it thoughtfully. Pretty f-ing delightful. The skin was chewy, but not bitter, and the inside part of the squash tasted like a buttered sweet potato. It tasted better than candy. Well, not Twix. But most candy.

No matter how tasty, you know I wouldn’t be writing about it if at least one of my kids hadn’t managed to choke it down. Finn, naturally, was not a fan. But Tate did more than choke it down. He ate every last piece that I packed into his lunchbox. The list of vegetables that (one of) my kids will eat just grew by 33%. And the squash could not be simpler to prepare.

A note about packing lunches. I hate packing lunches. What parent likes packing lunches? Tom would rather pull out his fingernails than pack a lunch. But sometimes out of sheer boredom I’ll put some effort into it, and it can pay off, at least for Tate, who seems more inclined to eat food when it is presented appealingly. He must take after my mom, who taught me early on that we “eat with our eyes, before we eat with our mouths.” But that’s Tate. If I packed the lunch above for Finn it would come back pristine and untouched, minus the orange and perhaps one cracker, which he would have nibbled at in desperation before realizing that it had sesame seeds on it.

For making Tate’s lunches, I like lunchbots containers because they are easy to open. I also like mini silicone muffin liners, for little portions of raisins, nuts, or hummus. You can prevent the items from spilling out by putting another silicone muffin liner upside down on top to cover. For Finn, whose lunch always starts with a thermos of warm brown rice, I could not live without this product. Please share your favorite lunchbox ideas, because we all need the help. I’ll post about other lunchbox discoveries, assuming I make any. Now, onto the recipe.

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KMW’s Roasted Delicata Squash

1 medium-sized delicata squash

Olive oil

1 T melted butter (for flavor, can be omitted)

Kosher salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Trim ends of squash, halve vertically, scoop seeds out, and cut horizontally into 1/3 inch thick slices. Leave skin on.

3. Toss squash in bowl with drizzle of olive oil (enough to lightly coat each piece) and melted butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Go easy with the salt as the squash shrinks as it roasts.

4. Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, until browned at edges. Don’t pack them in too close to one another or they will steam instead of roast. If you like them crispier, bake them longer. If you like them softer, bake them less. Flip them once, or don’t.

5. Serve hot or at room temperature. Will keep in fridge for three days. You can double the recipe but you’ll need two pans–rotate halfway through cooking. I imagine these would be great as a grownup appetizer with a sprinkle of cayenne.

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17 Comments Post a comment
  1. I LOOOOOVE delicata squash!!

    May 8, 2013
  2. nannyknowitall #

    This is awesome! I’m preparing a blog for “easy cold lunch” recipes nannies and parents can prepare for their little ones for school! Thanks for another great idea!

    December 30, 2012
  3. my 5 year old would eat this for a snack 😦 not lunch. I’d have to pack 5 of these for lunch or else I’d pick her up starving and angry. or is this just a starter?

    November 29, 2012
    • nope, it’s tate’s actual lunch, but tate is three, and not a huge eater. you’re lucky your kid has a great appetite

      November 29, 2012
  4. Emily Jones #

    I appreciate the disclosure that your lunches don’t always look like that. It’s beautiful! But I was starting to feel bad about the mediocre half-sandwich and apple that usually constitute my entire lunch effort. Do you really do brown rice in a thermos? That sounds good. I’m trying these squash soon, too.

    November 28, 2012
    • emily! yes finn gets a thermos of brown or red rice every day, with a container of dried seaweed sheets to make rice wraps, plus black beans and an apple. sometimes he gets squares of sautéed tofu instead of beans. every day. so repetitive but it comes back eaten…

      November 28, 2012
  5. Awe man, I am so jealous, I wish my Mom had packed lunches like that!

    November 28, 2012
    • full disclosure, i don’t pack lunches like that every day, or even most days

      November 28, 2012
      • it’s better than a slice of warm american cheese and leftovers! Which is what I got!

        November 28, 2012
    • oh my. you win

      November 28, 2012
      • It was no good, but bless her heart for feeding me 🙂

        November 28, 2012
  6. That looks awesome.

    November 28, 2012
  7. jo #

    check out this website for kids bentos!
    http://lunchinabox.net/

    November 28, 2012
    • risotto cakes! I laugh, and then I cry. Thank you for the aspirational lead….

      November 28, 2012

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