Spicy Stir-Fried Delicata Squash with Cashews
I got prematurely sick of roasted vegetables this season. Every food lover lauds the almost-black, crispy exterior and sweet interior of roasted broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes, all while not-so-quietly demeaning the taste and texture of vegetables boiled or steamed. I’m back on the roasted ones by now, don’t worry, it was a temporary case of over-it-ness, but in the couple weeks when I didn’t want to turn on the oven and arrange little pieces in one layer on a baking sheet, I rediscovered two techniques that I’d pushed to the side: steaming and stir-frying. In today’s dish, we’re going to do both.
First, steaming, the happiest and longest lost rediscovery. Vegetables get sweeter and somehow become more themselves after some time in the sauna. If you’re aching for a post-Thanksgiving healthy snack, I’d say look no further than a cup of steamed broccoli, cooked 5 minutes past the point of crunch, and maybe dressed with some thinned-out tahini. For squash, steaming makes cooking time quicker, and especially with delicata–which you don’t have to peel–sets you up for a fast stir-fry after, because the squash is already almost done.
You even get to do the rest of the prep work while the squash steams. Then comes the stir-fry action, when the thin slices of squash absorb the warmth of garlic, ginger, hot pepper, and scallions, becoming a sweet and spicy mess of vegetables that turns into a seriously good bowl lunch or dinner with some help from brown rice and toasted cashews.
Just so you know, this dish isn’t a super saucy one, because I wanted to taste the squash and the ginger and the heat, rather than the soy sauce. So this is a dry fry. Feel free to add much more wine or drizzle soy sauce at the end if you want something to moisten your rice.
- 1 small delicata squash, washed well
- 4 scallions
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¾-inch piece ginger
- about ½ of a small hot pepper (I used a habanero)
- Safflower oil
- ⅓ cup raw cashews
- 1 tablespoon white wine or mirin
- 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
- White or brown rice, for serving
- Bring 2 inches of water to boil in the bottom of a pan with a steamer basket. If you don't have one, don't worry, just bring the water to boil. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut off the ends, but no need to peel (you can eat delicata skin!). Set the two halves, cut side up, in the basket (or right in the hot water). Cover the pot and steam for 10 minutes, til the squash has softened slightly.
- Meanwhile, slice the scallions and add the white and light green parts to one bowl and the dark green to another. Mince the garlic, peel and mince the ginger, and mince as much of the hot pepper (avoiding the seeds) as you'd like to use. Add to the white/light green scallions and set aside.
- When the squash is ready, remove from the steamer and let cool slightly on your cutting board. Turn to cut side down, then slice into very thin half moons (about ¼-inch).
- Set a large skillet over high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Add a little oil and the cashews and cook, stirring occasionally, til they are brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. When cool, coarsely chop.
- Add more oil to the pan, plus the white/green scallion, ginger, garlic, pepper mixture. If you're using the hot pepper, be careful about inhaling the steam from the pan--it'll make you wheeze. Stir and fry for about 1 minute, until the aromatics are softened and just beginning to brown. Sprinkle with salt, then add the sliced squash. Stir and fry, leaving the squash for 30 seconds or so at a time to brown, for about 5 minutes, until the squash is fully cooked. Sprinkle with more salt, then add the white wine and soy sauce and remove from the heat. Add the cashews, stir well, taste for salt, and serve on rice, topped with the green parts of the scallions.