going (butter)nuts November 25, 2005

Squash1_1  Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, I have two things to confess:

1) I hate turkey.

2) I hate leftover turkey even more.

There is a sweetness to turkey that, as a white meat eater, I don’t really care for. Partner that with the fact that I don’t know that I have ever had a properly cooked turkey before (sorry, Mom)..and the thought of sitting through at least one turkey dinners in one day makes me just sigh.

So, in the days following Turkey Day, I usually crave things that couldn’t be more un-turkey-like. Something to cleanse my palate of it all and bring me back to the world of real food.  Today..the only thing I could think of that I would enjoy eating was the butternut squash sitting on my kitchen counter. No soup for me! I took it in an entirely different direction and made Mario Batali’s Scapese di Zucca: Marinated Butternut Squash .

This dish has every quality I look for in food all on one plate: creamy textures balanced against crunchy, sweet versus tangy, some spice but not overwhelming with a cool herb to counterbalance it. Don’t cook the squash to death: stick with the inch sized sliced recommended in the recipe. You’ll get some caramelization without overcooking it. Also, don’t skimp on the fresh mint. It adds a lot to this dish. You wont miss those leftover turkey recipes, I promise.

Scapece di Zucca – Marinated Butternut Squash

2 medium butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch slices
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, sliced paper thin
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, sliced paper-thin
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Season the squash with salt and pepper, drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil, and place in a single layer on 1 or 2 cookie sheets.
Bake in the oven until just tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the remaining oil, vinegar, onion, Chile flakes, oregano, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Remove the squash from the oven and pour the marinade over. Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the marinade, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves, and serve. This dish can be made earlier in the day but should not be refrigerated.

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