It’s early March, the daffodils are up, the equinox is just a couple of weeks away, but spring feels like a long way off. I want to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and a bowl of hot soup. I still want foods that are warming and rich. The good news is that this recipe for marinated squash satisfies all of these cravings. However, you will have to provide the wine.
It has been fun visiting our Farmer’s Market in January and February and experimenting with new ways of preparing fall harvest vegetables. There are a plethora of winter squashes available: delicata, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, sweet pumpkin, Kobacha, and Red Kuri. For this recipe I used Red Kuri because of its beautiful yellow color and hearty consistency.
Marinating squash and zucchini are prominent in Italian cooking. Who knew! The basic steps include slicing and browning the squash, layering with fresh mint and spices, drowning it in extra virgin olive oil and then refrigerating overnight to let the flavors marry. The combination of creamy squash, mint, and olive oil are heavenly on the palette. This is a special treat. It is fun to make for guests because it is a bit unique and a dish you don’t see every day. I love to have a batch of marinated squash and roasted peppers in my fridge to spice up salads or as a fun side dish.
Notes to the Cook:
- Peeling and cutting hard winter squash can be challenging. Try placing the whole squash in the 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes prior to cutting. Once it has cooled, use a Y-peeler to remove skin and a sharp knife will cut through with much less effort.
- It helped me to have a visual of the cut squash, 2″ by 1/2″ by 1/4″, sort of like little tongue depressors.
Marinated Squash - southern Italian style
From the Campania region - A hearty antipasto.
- 1 1/4 lbs yellow or orange winter squash, peeled and seeded
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 10 – 15 fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 whole cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife and peeled
- salt and pepper
- Cut squash into pieces about 2 inches long, 1/2 inch wide, and 1/4 inch thick.
- Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron pan. Working in batches, on medium low heat, cook squash pieces until they are slightly browned, about 7-8 minutes, turning occasionally so they cook evenly. Add the rest of the olive oil when you start the second batch.
- When browned, remove from the pan and place on paper towels to drain, reserving the cooking oil. The squash pieces should be cooked through but firm, not too soft. They will soften up a bit while they marinate.
- In a deep glass bowl or pan, put a layer of squash pieces on the bottom, and layer mint leaves, pepper, chili pepper and a pinch of salt. Keep layering until all squash pieces are used. Top with a few mint leaves.
- In a small saucepan, add white wine vinegar, whole garlic cloves, 1/2 cup water, and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes and then pour over squash. Add 3 tablespoons of the leftover cooking oil.
- Cover and refrigerate. Let marinate for at least 12 hours.
- Serve cold as an antipasto with crunchy bruschetta and fresh olives. Buon appetito!