I was able to rescue about half a dozen butternut squash before the bugs destroyed the plants in my garden. We have been enjoying what have turned out to be some very tasty squash.
While driving to Boston to help my daughter move, I listened to 6 hours of NPR. In Connecticut I discovered Food Schmooze, a very entertaining food show. Their guest that day was Domenica Marchetti, who had just published “Preserving Italy” a book devoted to preserving foods as they do in Italy. My interest was really piqued when one of the recipes they discussed was preserving butternut squash in olive oil. I just had to try this! This recipe was available on their website, but I have also subsequently purchased the book.
I also made a farro salad from the book utilizing the preserved squash and dried cherries. It earned high marks from my daughters.
Butternut Squash Preserved in Oil
1 1/2 to 2 lbs butternut squash
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 fresh chile pepper, sliced crosswise or a tablespoon of crushed hot pepper
1 tsp dried mint
1 1/2 to tsp kosher salt
Sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
You’ll need 3 or 4 sterilized 1/2-pint jars with lids for this recipe.
Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy pulp and discard (or reserve the seeds for another use). Peel off the rind and cut the squash halves in half again lengthwise, to yield 4 pieces. Slice each quarter crosswise into wedges about ¼ inch thick and transfer to a large heatproof bowl.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, chile pepper, mint, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir once or twice to dissolve the sugar.
Pour the boiling brine over the squash. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let steep overnight.
Drain the squash, reserving the brine. Return the brine to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil vigorously for 2 minutes, then carefully add the squash. Return to a boil and boil until the squash is just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes—it should still be a little crunchy. Drain the squash and spread it out on clean kitchen towels to air-dry for a couple of hours.
Pack the pieces tightly into the jars, leaving about 1 inch headspace.
Pour enough oil over the squash to cover the pieces completely. Cover tightly with the lids and let stand at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
To serve, remove only as much as you plan to use and let it come to room temperature. Top off the jar with more oil as necessary to keep the remaining squash submerged.