Roasted squash is one of my favorite dishes to make during the fall and early winter months.
When I came up with this recipe, I thought about what would pair well with thick rounds of nutty Delicata squash. First, I decided to splash them with a bit of aged sherry vinegar for acid. (Make sure to use the good stuff, e.g., Vinagre de Jerez Reserva, which has a sweet raisin-like scent and a not-too-severe bite of acidity.)
What really makes this dish extra-special, though, are thin slices of lardo, a type of Italian salumi made by curing fatback with herbs and spices like bay leaves and peppercorns. When you drape the paper-thin pieces on top of the hot squash, they practically melt, leaving nearly nothing but salty, porky flavor.
A final sprinkling of marjoram, lemon zest and red pepper flakes brightens everything up. The finished dish is as pretty to look at as it is delicious.
To learn more, read "Spatchcocked and Loaded."
Delicata Squash with Lardo and Marjoram
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
4 medium Delicata squash (about 4 pounds; you can substitute acorn or butternut squash)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 fresh bay leaves
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
¼ pound lardo, very thinly sliced and chilled (see note)
Zest from 1 lemon
¼ cup marjoram leaves, roughly chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut the squash into 1-inch-thick rounds, leaving the skin on. Remove the seeds using a metal spoon. Place the squash on a parchment-lined sheet tray, then toss it with the olive oil and bay leaves. Season the squash with salt, then roast, shaking the sheet halfway through, until the rounds are almost tender and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, shaking the sheet tray to coat the squash evenly. Finish roasting until tender, another 5 minutes.
2. Transfer the squash to a large platter. Place the lardo slices over the squash. Sprinkle the squash with lemon zest, marjoram leaves and red pepper flakes, and serve.
Note: Make sure to keep the lardo slices chilled until just before serving. This makes them easier to handle when you're placing them over the squash.