Photo: Mina Stone

The exhibition Adam Pendleton: Who Is Queen? will be on view at MoMA September 11, 2021–January 2, 2022.

“I'm particularly drawn to things that are crafted carefully. I think that’s how we articulate ourselves and manifest as being human—it is the care and attention we give to certain things. Food is, of course, at the foundation of that.” —Adam Pendleton

The care and attention behind a completed action can be sensed immediately. Food, what we prepare to eat, is a primary example of that experience. New York–based artist Adam Pendleton, toward the end of our interview, drew the conclusion that that’s what we had been talking about the whole time, through a range of subjects.

I started thinking about the little things. The small, everyday decisions we make throughout our day. It became a meditation—a way to approach life in general, familiarizing myself with the conscious moments between actions. To pause and think about my intention. To gently approach the moment and better understand what it might need in order to express itself.

“It speaks to the poetics of complexity. I think we’re very much living in a world where we’re looking for the one right thing, the one right idea, or the one right image—and there isn’t one. There are different things for different occasions and different moments. That articulates and expresses itself in our most basic needs—and that is food.”

That was one of my favorite parts of the interview because Adam drew that conclusion after talking about olive oil. He said that there isn’t a “right” kind of olive oil, but rather different kinds that work best in different kinds of food.

I often tell people that the quickest way to improve your cooking is to use good olive oil because it lets the main ingredient shine. I would describe it differently now—it is in the absence of poorly made olive oil that you will taste the food you make with more clarity.

By considering the needs of the food you are making, by being alert and receptive, you allow the dish, or anything else in your life, to culminate into its full expression of being.

Photo: Mina Stone

Photo: Mina Stone

Roasted Delicata Squash

“There was always an emphasis on good food in my house. I remember that there was a holistic view—it wasn’t about convenience and it wasn’t about something coming together quickly. It was about how it would taste—and in addition, how it could nourish your body.”

This Roasted Delicata Squash recipe is everything a roasted vegetable should be. All the little details Adam took the time to describe made all the difference. The dish is bright and alive with crispy, caramelized squash peppered with spicy garlic and chili flakes. It marries the ethos of food as nourishment as well taking the time to achieve total deliciousness.

Serves two

1 delicata squash
Good extra virgin olive oil*
2–3 cloves of garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Chili flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cover a rimmed baking sheet in aluminum foil, and place it in the oven while it preheats. Meanwhile, prepare your squash.

Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.

Cut each half into quarter-inch half-rings.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and carefully spread the sliced squash halves unto the pan in one layer. Leave some room between each piece.

Drizzle the squash with olive oil. (Adam’s note: Each piece should have some olive oil on it, but don’t go too crazy. )

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Adam also likes to add a couple pinches of chili flakes.)

Place in the oven and roast for 25–35 minutes. (Adam’s note: Remove them from the oven and flip the pieces halfway through to make sure each side gets into contact with the hot baking sheet. He also adds a little more olive oil throughout as the squash will absorb it as it cooks.)

While the squash is cooking, mince two to three cloves of garlic.

The squash is done roasting when it is tender and golden brown.
Remove the squash from the oven and toss it with two to three cloves of fresh minced garlic.

(Adam’s note: The garlic brings out the flavor of the squash. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more olive oil, salt, and pepper as necessary. Also, if you want it crispier, you can leave it in the oven a little longer. )

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Mina’s notes on “good” olive oil: Navigating market shelves can be tough when it comes to olive oil. Some tips are: avoid big-label olive oils and try to find extra virgin olive oil that comes from one country. Iliada olive oil and California Everyday are both brands that are not too expensive and of good quality.