They say not to judge a book by its cover, but real talk here, who doesn’t? Whether you’re choosing books or a brownie at the coffee shop, looks have everything to do with it. Even the name of something can influence our choices; anyone up for headcheese (yes please)? How about cow piecookies or truffles? The visual similarities between chocolate and dirt/feces aren’t lost on me (or anyone for that matter), but who cares? It’s chocolate!

Take delicata squash, for example; one might assume that it is a delicate little vegetable, but that misnomer refers only to the thin skin of the gourd, as the flesh is quite dense and hearty. It’s a rich yellow color, with a similar flavor and texture to sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Why bother? For starters, the skin is edible, no peeling! Also, the small size of the squash and thin walls means it cooks in the fraction of the time of other winter squashes. And the cherry on top: one cup of cooked squash has 40 calories and 90% of your vitamin A for the day. Sounds like the start of a weeknight dinner to me.

Say, a weeknight dinner where it’s too late to wait for the oven to heat up for roasting and the fridge is looking bare, except for the practically empty jar of tahini lurking in the back. This is where delicata is your hero my friend. Sliced into thin, ¼-inch thick rings, it steams up in five minutes, no joke! In those five minutes, you could decide what movie to watch on Netflix, listen to your voicemails, pick up the dog poop in the back yard (I’m on a poop roll today, huh?), or make an awesome little sesame butter sauce to nap your squash.

A splash of soy sauce, dab of tahini (or whatever you can scrape out of the jar), a little brown sugar, pat of butter and a drop of toasted sesame oil are whisked into a delicious, deep brown, rich and savory sauce which might even make real cow pies taste good (ok, that was the last one, promise!). It may be far from delicate, but it’s most definitely tasty.

Delicata Squash with Toasted Sesame Butter

Serves 4


1 medium delicata squash

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon tahini

½ teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, unsalted

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1-2 teaspoons water

Sesame seeds for serving

Steam the squash.Bring a medium saucepan with water to a simmer. Meanwhile, cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut it into ½-inch slices crosswise and put them in the steamer basket. Place over the simmering water and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat.

Make the sesame butter.In a small skillet or saucepan, heat the soy sauce until bubbling, about 1 minute. Add the tahini, butter and sesame oil, whisking to incorporate. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in 1-2 teaspoons water, until the sauce is emulsified and a good consistency for drizzling.

Dress the squash. Lay out the steamed squash on a platter and drizzle with the warm sesame butter sauce, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.