Sweet, a little bitter, and a whole lotta delicious. That's this dish. It's stunning as a holiday side dish but easy enough and healthy for that what-do-I eat-between-all-of-the-holiday-parties conundrum. Just add a grain, and you're in business. I have a thing for delicate squash. After all, it's one of the easiest winter squashes to cook given that you don't have to peel it and the skin and flesh are tender enough to cut through with a knife without mustering up much might (I'm looking at you butternut and kabocha!). If my dull knives can cut through them with ease, it's a winner in my book.
So radicchio. Let's talk about it. It's the beautiful cabbage looking thing in the produce section that adds a delicious bitter bite and purple hue to salads when thinly sliced but that transforms into something almost sweet when roasted. It's flavor mellows and it just wilts in the best way. Lentils add a little protein and a welcome texture to the vegetables. The star of the show just may be the date vinaigrette. I originally was going to chop dates and add them like you would dried cranberries in order to enhance the natural sweetness of the squash and roasted radicchio, but I threw them in the dressing at the last minute, and I'm glad I did. They soaked up just a little vinaigrette to soften but still retain their shape and in turn gave the vinaigrette a deeper caramel flavor that was able to permeate the whole dish.
We ate this alongside our mains the first go-around, but I served it atop brown rice with some chopped toasted walnuts as a more substantial lunch itself. If you're not vegan, a salty feta or tangy goat cheese (I used a local feta), is yum-o.
Delicata Squash and Roasted Radicchio with Date Vinaigrette
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 large delicata squash, seeds removed and sliced into ½-inch crescents
1 small head radicchio, sliced into 2-3 thick wedges
½ cup beluga lentils
Handful parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 medjool dates, pitted and finely diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss delicata with 2 teaspoons olive oil and spread in single layer on pan. Place radicchio on same baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle everything with salt. Roast vegetables in oven for 25-30 minutes or until squash and radicchio are golden brown. Remove from oven and chop radicchio in large pieces.
Meanwhile, cook lentils. Place the lentils in a small pot and cover with water by 1-2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking for 15-18 minutes uncovered or until lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.
Make vinaigrette. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, and garlic clove in small bowl. Add dates and salt and pepper to taste.
Combine radicchio, lentils, and delicata in bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4.