The Game-Changing Pickled Butternut Squash

Insanity, as the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And while I agree with Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, or whatever anonymous scholar coined the phrase for the most part, I’m finding a few exceptions to the rule when it comes to my ongoing experiments in finding ways to eat foods I hate.

I know, for example, that continuing to bake salmon, no matter what sauce or marinade I throw on top of it, is not going to magically change how I feel about the taste of that fish. But earlier this month, I voluntarily included half a banana in a smoothie and still managed to enjoy the drink. (Though at that point, allergies had left me barely able to breathe, so the taste of pretty much everything I gulped down was muted.)

Pickled Butternut Squash via
And thanks to a recent meal at Zuni Cafe, I’ve been introduced to a new way to eat the dreaded butternut squash: pickle it! (Yes, that’s already been turned into a Portlandia sketch, in case you’re wondering.)

Snappy and tart instead of mushy and sweet, I’m now convinced that pickled is the only way to go when eating members of the squash family. I’ve been throwing handfuls into salads alongside pickled beets for a one-two sweet-and-sour punch, tempered by radishes, cucumbers, and chickpeas; folding them with sour cream, herbs, and mayo for a quick Triscuit dip; and recreating the Zuni Cafe fish dish that inspired the whole deal.

Pan Roasted Cod with Pickled Butternut Squash via
I make mine with a small fillet of pan-roasted cod, a few slivers of caramelized fennel, and a swipe or two of fennel pesto (I omit the cheese when making pesto to accompany fish, and sometimes swap out the pine nuts for pistachios. I know, insanity!)

The crunchy cubes of squash would also be a bright addition to a coconut milk curry or folded into a whole grain pilaf with other cooked vegetables. I love enlivening meals with a little pickled tang, so I’m thrilled to have these in my repertoire for the summer months. Squash, consider yourself crossed off my list. On to the next.

Pickled Butternut Squash on Punk Domestics
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  1. says

    I’m not anti-squash at all (though most of my kids are), but this sounds fantastic. And that carmelized fennel . . . um yes!

  2. says

    I must say I kinda love squash, especially pureed into soup (quick healthy way to thicken things up)! But I’d totally give this pickled version a go!

  3. says

    I haven’t yet pickled butternut squash, but now it’s moved closer to the top of my list! Also, I’m proud of you for eating part of a banana, hehe! 😉

  4. Nat says

    Pickled squash is a wonderful thing for sure and a good one for your repertoire when the doldrums of winter seem too long. But, a suggestion to make it better, in my experience, is a 10 hour soak in 10% brine prior to pickling yields an even more completely al dente texture.