It was a chilly morning at last Saturday's Mill City Farmers Market, but that wasn't preventing vendors from piling their stands high with temptations. The Community Design Center of Minnesota was featuring beets, chard, zucchini, leeks, eggplant and cucumbers, among other beauties, but the real eye-catchers were a basket of delicata squash.
The delicata is true to its name, with a sweet, delicate flavor and tender, edible skin. They're roughly the size of a very plump cucumber, their creamy skins streaked with dark green ribs.
Here's an easy preparation, from Barbara Kafka's must-have "Vegetable Love" (Artisan, $35): Place a whole squash in a steamer basket and cook until a knife cuts easily into the flesh, about 10 to 12 minutes. Run under cold water until cool enough to handle, then halve squash, scoop out seeds and fibers, and serve.
The center, a nonprofit in its 16th year, provides more than 40 high school students with entrepreneurial experiences as they cultivate seven organic gardens on St. Paul's East Side, operate a farm-share program and run farmers market stands. I asked Kou Lee, a senior at Como Park High School and a four-year veteran of the program, what he enjoys most about his work. "All of it," he said with a smile.
Delicata squash ($2 a pound) at the Community Design Center of Minnesota (www.CDCMN.org) at the Mill City Farmers Market, 2nd Street and Chicago Avenue S., Mpls., www.millcityfarmersmarket.org), open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For delicata squash recipes, go to startribune.com/tabletalk.