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Butternut Squash Is Great Raw & Perfect for Salads

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Butternut Squash Is Great Raw & Perfect for Salads 2

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else—flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst: We don’t count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we’re guessing you have those covered. Today, we’re enjoying butternut squash in its natural state.


Our site has its fair share of butternut squash recipes, most of which take place in the oven or on the stove. See: these caramelized wedges with sage pesto, this garlicky galette, these crunchy chips, this cider-spiked soup, and hundreds more.

Yet my favorite way to enjoy butternut squash involves little more than peeling, plus a few minutes of knifework.

Just as summer squash like zucchini is as delightful shaved into ribbons as it is sizzled in a skillet, winter squash like butternut has range. Nobody puts it in a corner.

Yes, it’s wonderful blasted in the oven, then tossed with hot pasta. Yes, it’s dreamy blended into a nutty-cheesy soup. And, yes, it’s game-changing julienned into matchsticks and dressed as a salad.

Photo by JAMES RANSOM. PROP STYLIST: BROOKE DEONARINE. FOOD STYLIST: SAMANTHA SENEVIRATNE.

With months of cold weather coming up, any snappy, crunchy vegetable is a ripe way to sidestep the annual, inevitable roasted vegetable fatigue. Think of butternut like a carrot, but better, with a creamy, buttery flavor and happy-go-lucky color that I would paint on my nails if I painted my nails.

After cutting up your squash, make sure to salt it, with feeling, so the fresh vegetable becomes highly seasoned and slightly wilted—still crisp, just weaker in the knees. From there, you could dress it up as your favorite salad situation—from Caesar to slaw-style with mayo, shiro miso, and rice vinegar.

But first, I hope you’ll try this minimalist combo, which has, in my home, swiftly become a fall favorite: Quick-pickled chiles (jalapeño or serrano or Fresno or whatever you like, in your favorite vinegar). Sticky, chewy Medjool dates. And crumbled salty feta.

The good news is: Because butternut squash is so sturdy, this keeps like a dream in the fridge for days. Which means you can make a batch for lunch or dinner today, then reward yourself for the rest of the week. Or, wheel it out for a get-together like Thanksgiving. Sure, you’ll have to assure a few relatives that, yeah, you can eat butternut squash raw. But one bite will do the trick.

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