Ever since I started cooking, well if we’re really being honest, since I started eating, I’ve had a love for Italian food. The cuisine relies not on the expertise of its chef, but rather in the quality of its ingredients. For someone like myself who was self taught the ins and outs of the kitchen and how to put a meal on the table, this was a promising idea.
Still today, with much more skill under my belt, I find the proposition of simply prepared fresh ingredients to be enchanting. When cooking Italian, it’s almost as though you can do no wrong, especially if your ingredients are up to par, which can immensely cut down on the stress of making dinner so long as you enjoy hunting for sublime produce.
And speaking of produce, another wonderful aspect of Italian cooking is that it puts the vegetable on a pedestal. For example, could you imagine anyone besides an Italian describing vegetables as glorious? That’s some serious admiration, right? Well my friends, Domenica Marchetti has a serious thing for vegetables, and thankfully she shares her love with us in her cookbook The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.
I must admit that I can count on my hands the number of cookbooks I’ve read front to back like a novel. Cookbooks like that are rare, but you can add this one to that list. Filled with recipes for every season that celebrate the preparation of nature’s bounty, this is one cookbook not to miss. Domenica’s recipe headnotes filled my dreams the entire week the book sat on my nightstand as my before bed reading. She tells the stories of the home kitchen and shares with us the traditions and secrets of born Italian cooks. And to top it off, the whole thing is beautifully photographed and designed.
The preparation of roasted winter squash is nothing new, but basting it in cream while it baked was new to me. Her recipe, Baked Squash with Cream and Parmigiano, is really as simple as it sounds, but the flavor, oh the flavor! The sweet essence of the squash is set off by a rich Alfredo sauce taste. The basting allows for the squash to crisp at the top, bringing to mind the heavenly browned top of a Baked Mac & Cheese that everyone fights over. And if all that hasn’t sold you yet, the whole thing can be prepared for the oven in 5 minutes flat. Ah, the wonders of Italian cooking!
This is the perfect recipe for a weeknight meal since it doesn’t require much hands on time. I’d suggest fixing a quick Italian salad and opening a good bottle of wine to accompany it. That’s what we did anyway, and man was it was glorious!
For another favorite Acorn Squash recipe, check out this Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Acorn Squash Béchamel.
*I was sent The Glorious Vegetables of Italy as a review copy. My review reflects my true opinion on the book, as I only share items that I truly love myself.
- 1 Acorn or Delicata Squash, halved length wise and deseeded (save the seeds to roast!)
- ¼ Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- ⅛ Cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, freshly grated
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Place the slices of squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the Heavy Whipping Cream evenly between the two pieces, pouring it into the center cavity of the squash. Using a basting brush spread the cream around coating the exposed flesh of the squash. Season each piece then with a bit of Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg (freshly grated of each is best) and sprinkle on the Parmigiano.
- Bake the squash for 30-40 minutes for Delicata, and 45 minutes for Acorn. Baste the squash at 15 minute intervals while baking, brushing the flesh with the cream that gathers in the center cavity. You will know the squash is done when the cream is thick and browned in spots and the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Transfer the squash to plates and serve immediately.