Sliced delicata makes a great presentation, with its flowery silhouette and striped edge. It also cooks a little more quickly than other squashes, and the fact that you can keep the skin on is a prep time-saver. The taste is delicately sweet, which works nicely with a nutty topping, and the tangy sweetness of the balsamic-honey-lime syrup. This is the first of the secret ingredients in Hobnob’s Hidden Secrets party menu.
The secret topping: shiso leaves which add a mint-basil burst and a great texture. They come in green and a dark purple for added vivid color to the dish.
The pearl couscous pulls the dish together and gives it weight, perfect for serving at a party—it will soak up the imbibing well. Tip: do not make the couscous the night before, it will be a sticky mess. I tried to get ahead of things, but had to make a fresh second batch the day of the party.
MAKES A LARGE BOWLFUL, ABOUT 50 SMALL PORTIONS
PREHEAT OVEN 400ºF… ROAST THE SQUASH
5 med delicata squash
3 TB grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
Slice each squash in half horizontally and scoop out seeds with a spoon, then cut into 1/2-inch slices, discarding the ends. In a large bowl, toss squash slices in oil, s + p.
On 3 parchment-lined baking sheets arrange slices in a single layer. Roast until lightly golden, about 40 min. (Flip slices around 20 min).
Depending on your oven size, switch order of trays from top to bottom during cooking. You’ll notice the top tray getting browner faster, so you might need to pull out one tray before the others.
MEANWHILE MAKE THE PEARL COUSCOUS
3 CUPS water
2 CUPS pearl cous cous
Bring water to a boil, add couscous. Lower heat, simmer covered about 10 min. Let stand covered 2-3 min. Fluff with fork. Add a touch of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
MAKE THE BALSAMIC-HONEY-LIME SYRUP
3 TB honey
1/2 CUP white balsamic vinegar
1 large lime, zested and juiced
In a small saucepan combine ingredients, bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for about 12 min till the mix becomes syrupy.
FINISH THE DISH
roasted squash rings, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 CUP hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
shiso leaves, cut into ribbons
In a large bowl, drizzle squash with syrup, but don’t drown, then sprinkle with nuts, toss together. Top with shiso ribbons last, and mix again. Add a few more shiso leaves on the top for garnish.
Put out the big bowl for guests to serve themselves on a buffet, or to accommodate roving guests, supply small bowls (we used bamboo recycled bowls and spoons) and portion out for guests to grab and go.
See more recipes with secret, surprise ingredients in Hobnob’s party #22 Hidden Secrets at this link.