I live in Vancouver's West End, and this past Saturday was the last of our local markets. I'll still head to the winter market every other week, but I'll miss the two-block walk instead of the drive to Nat Bailey stadium—though with triple the stalls, it's well worth it.
But this last market meant I loaded up on my favourite haul for this time of year: delicata and kabocha squash. Both are sweet with edible outer skins, and both can be prepared super simply: slice 'em up, toss them in a little olive oil, some salt, and roast them at 420 F for about 20-30 minutes, until they're nice and soft and caramelized on the outiside. (I also use parchment paper on the pans, and 420 is its max smoke point, which I discovered just as you'd imagine I would—when it lit on fire in my oven.)
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But the game-changing technique I'm about to share with you came from a friend who did a deep dive into Alice Water's Master Class. She told me how Waters used makrut lime leaves as a base for roasting the squash, and I thought, what paradise world does Waters live in where lime leaves are at the ready?
Turns out, I live there too, thanks to South China Seas on Granville Island. They regularly sell small packages of fresh makrut leaves—and in fact, had them as a deal of 2 packs for $4 when I was there a couple of weekends ago. I tossed one pack in the freezer, and got to work on my squash.
Makrut lime leaves
Can I just say, my apartment smelled out of this world when I was roasting the squash on the leaves? And the finished squash—well, wow. It's infused with a lime flavour that isn't sharp, like it would be if you tossed them in juice, and not bitter, like it might be with rind. Just incredibly tasty.
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Roasted Delicata Squash with Makrut Lime Leaves Recipe
1-2 Delicata squash, or other edible skin squash like Kabocha
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Sea salt
20-30 makrut lime leaves
Preheat oven to 420°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Wash and dry makrut lime leaves, and lay in a single layer on the parchment paper. You do not need to remove the stems.
Slice squash in half length wise, and remove seeds. (You can save and roast separately, if you'd like.) Slice into half-inch thick rounds, and place in mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil and sea salt, and then spread out, single layer on prepared pan of lime leaves.
Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turning the pieces over at the 20-minute mark to ensure even roasting on both sides. Don't worry too much of the lime leaves get mixed up with the squash while doing so - they'll just spread more flavour around.
Remove from oven, discard lime leaves (which will now be crispy and dried out), and serve squash warm.