Shortly after Thanksgiving I stop buying fresh salad greens. Yes, we really do have greenhouses in the northern tier, but eating seasonally means using what is available (for a reasonable price), buying locally or using whatever you put by from the garden. However, this doesn’t mean giving up salads. Crunchy goodness isn’t synonymous with romaine lettuce. Salad like soup can be made from almost any vegetable (because that’s what I mostly eat). One of the things that is readily available in the markets here is butternut squash. Now, there are endless ways to prepare squash, but almost all of them involve cooking in one form or another and I had never heard of eating butternut squash raw. So, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a recipe by Mark Bittman (The Minimalist) of the New York Times using raw butternut squash. This is my adaptation of his recipe using ingredients from my kitchen.
Raw Butternut Squash with Dried Fruit and Walnuts
- 1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used a combination of dried cherries and golden raisins but you could use cranberries or almost any dried fruit – go ahead, live dangerously)
- 1 tablespoon of chopped pickled ginger (the original recipe calls for fresh, but I made pickled ginger this year so I used that and it was GOOOD)
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar. (I substituted half balsamic vinegar and half tawny port)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut off the ball part of the squash and save it for another recipe.
Peel and slice the neck portion and grate.
In a bowl, combine the grated butternut squash, the dried fruit, walnuts, salt and pepper. In a small jar, combine the olive oil and the vinegar/port mixture. Shake well and toss with the squash mixture.
Serve immediately, or put in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Mixed Pickle Relish
It’s time to start using up those little treats from the garden. Remember the pickles I made last fall: green beans, carrots, cucumbers? No, well here they are, and this is going to be one of the easiest side dishes ever. Serve it like a salad with some rich like curry, or serve it like relish. It’s even good on sandwiches.
1/2 cup pickled carrots (cubed)
1/2 cup pickled green beans (chopped)
1/2 cup pickled cucumbers (bread and butter variety)
1/2 cup pickled red onions (chopped)
Combine in a pretty bowl. That’s it. Summer crunchy in the middle of winter.