I made this recipe for “braised pinto beans with delicata squash, red wine, and tomatoes” a few years ago when I was visiting Derek’s parents in New York. My mom joined us for dinner. Since Derek’s father can’t eat much salt, I cut the salt back substantially, and just let each person salt the dish to taste. At the time, my mom really liked the dish, but no one seemed to want to eat the leftovers, but maybe it was just because I cut out the salt. Adding salt at the table doesn’t get the salt into the center of the beans and squash, where it’s needed. I do remember being impressed that the delicata squash skin really wasn’t tough at all. But overall I just found the stew a bit boring. But I finally found delicata here in small-city Germany, and decided to give it another try.
You start by sauteing 2 cups of thinly sliced onion in a mixture of olive oil and butter (but I forgot to add the oil). Then slices of delicata squash are added along with sliced garlic cloves. Then you add a can of pinto beans (with their liquid), a can of tomatoes (with their liquid), red wine, 1 chipotle chile in adobo, and a tablespoon of chopped fresh sage. I remembered that last time I couldn’t taste the sage at all so this time I used 2 tablespoons of sage.
Even though I added plenty of salt this time, I still found the dish kind of boring. You can definitely taste the chipotles, but I couldn’t taste the sage or wine at all. Derek really liked the dish though. He thought it was delicious. He admitted that it was a bit monochromatically smoky, but still he said he enjoyed it. He loves anything with chipotle, and he said he also appreciated the textural contrasts. The onions cooked down into a stringy mass, the delicata slices were silky but still a tad toothsome, and then there were the starchy beans and the sauce. Derek said he was glad I didn’t add the olive oil, as the dish was plenty rich. He said that the silky pieces of delicata squash made the dish taste rich, even if it wasn’t.
Without the olive oil, the dish was surprisingly low calorie. One quarter of the recipe contained only 200 calories, but was quite filling.
This recipe is part of a two-dish menu along with aged gouda arepas. We made the arepas last time and found them “just okay.” We could definitely taste the aged gouda, which we liked, but I think we just don’t like arepas all that much. They’re kind of like eating thick, cooked corn dough. I’ve never had them before, so I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be like. Maybe we screwed something up.
The menu also includes a third “bonus” dish—picadillo, a vegetarian version of a spanish dish which usually contains marinated meats and vegetables. This vegetarian version is basically a cabbage salad, except you blanch the sliced cabbage in boiling water for a minute. The salad also calls for carrot, red bell pepper, radishes, cilantro, and scallions. The dressing is made from olive oil, garlic, jalapeno, and lime juice. I was expecting something quite bright and tangy tasting, and spicy, but it was none of the above. I guess my jalapeno wasn’t very spicy, because I couldn’t detect it at all (I even left the seeds in). And I cut the oil in half but still the dressing didn’t taste nearly acidic enough to me. I added a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and it helped, but the salad was still a bit wan tasting. Derek didn’t seem to mind it. I gave him a big bowl of it and he ate it all up, but then the next day he was uninterested in the leftovers. I quite enjoyed all the sliced radishes and carrots in the salad, and the texture of the blanched cabbage was interesting. But next time I’ll try to make a punchier dressing.