Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh, My Squash! It's Autumn!

A couple of weeks ago, I was on an epic bike ride (and by “epic” I mean about six miles on my neon pink beach cruiser), when I decided to stop into Plow to Porch Organics on upper State Street. I hadn’t been inside their store since using my Groupon a year and a half ago, so I nosed around all the displays.

As I rummaged through the freezer, trying to decide between flavors of Rori’s artisanal ice cream, I was approached by a friendly woman named Pam Plesons. She’s the owner of Plow to Porch, and she told me all about their home delivery program.

Within minutes, I was signing up for a weekly delivery of the “Small” sized box, which includes enough fresh produce from multiple farms in the area to feed two people for a week. They also offer “Family” sized boxes, if you live in a bigger household, and “Bambino” sized boxes, if you are an Italian baby.

Regular old Community Share Agriculture (CSA) programs offer only whatever that one farm happens to grow, whereas Plow to Porch offers a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and herbs from a variety of farms. You can also sign up online for “extras” like cheese, nuts, meat, fish, etc. on a week-to-week basis.

Yesterday, I received my second weekly box, right outside my front door:

There are very few ways in which Santa Barbara indicates the autumn season. The grape harvest and subsequent wine binging tasting is the most fun way, and the appearance of all different kinds of squash is the most delicious. So I was psyched to see four delicata squash in my Plow to Porch box.

Delicata squash is right up my alley when it comes to cooking preparation, since it’s easier to cut than most other squash and you don’t have to skin it before you cook it. After more than one traumatizing experience chasing a stubborn butternut squash around the kitchen with a carving knife, slicing up delicata squash was a piece of pumpkin pie.

Delicata Squash with Sage
The ingredients
Here’s what I used:
2 delicata squash from Jose Alcantara Garcia in Oxnard, CA (distance from me: 37 miles)
1 bunch sage from Earthtrine Farm in Ojai (distance from me: 33 miles)

(I would have liked to use butter, but I had rubbed the last of it all over my knee after walking into a piece of furniture. I read online that butter stops bruises from forming. For the record, it did not work, and now I just have a greasy, bruised knee.)

Unfortunately butterless, I figured I could always add some olive oil if the squash turned out too dry. First, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I cut the squash down the middle and scraped out the seeds so they looked like this:

Then I sliced them into little half-circles and arranged them in a baking dish. I chopped up the bunch of sage into very fine bits and sprinkled them over the top of the squash. I baked it for 45 minutes.

I don’t cook with sage very often, so I was glad for a reason to try it. I’ve always thought sage tastes and smells like a musty old museum – the kind with taxidermied mammals in glass cases. I still think it tastes musty, but combined with the flavorful squash, it was more of a comforting must, like a nice old lady’s sweater drawer.

I sautéed some spinach from Rancho Cortez in Santa Maria (distance from me: 64 miles) as a side. The whole meal was delicious. I’m inclined to think butter was completely unnecessary, since the squash itself had a buttery texture and flavor.

I know what I’m rubbing on my knee the next time I accidentally walk into the coffee table.


  1. Yum. You have inspired me. There is a pumpkin staring intimidatingly at me from my kitchen table. Tomorrow it becomes dinner!

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