While shopping at the grocery for ingredients to be used on Lechon # 4, I was really surprised to come across some butternut squash in the vegetable section of Rustan’s Ayala Center Cebu. No fresh thyme or rosemary in sight, but 6 beautiful little butternut squashes were nestled amongst the more commonly available kalabasa. What a pleasant surprise indeed. I picked up three of the butternut squashes and figured I just had to cook something on the grill beside the lechon… Without a recipe on hand, I picked up some nice looking onions, some new or small marble potatoes and a red and yellow capsicum or bell peppers.
Back in the garage adjacent to the lechonan, I peeled the butternut squash and sliced them into 1/2 inch thick pieces, and sliced the onions and capsicum as well. I then added some olive oil to all of the vegetables and tossed them to coat liqghtly. Some kosher salt, dried thyme and cracked black pepper and straight onto a hot grill. The potatoes took the longest to cook, some 15-20 minutes depending on heat levels, and the squash took perhaps 10-15 minutes in total.
Once everything was sufficiently cooked, slightly charred and tender, I mixed all of these ingredients in a serving platter and served it just as is! It was a bit unusual for most of the office crew, and they eyed it warily as I didn’t peel the potatoes nor did I do much at all to the ingredients. But the taste of this salad was quite unique… starch from the potatoes, sweetness from the squash and onions and color and flavor from the capsicum. And all of it as pure as it can get, with a smokey overlay from the grill. I quite liked it, actually.
The grilled squash took on a slightly rubbery texture that some might find unappealing, but overall this was a tasty, satisfying side salad (and totally vegetarian). It might go better with a substantial selection of sausages and some assertive mustards, but it was definitely worth the experiment. As for butternut squash, I sure hope it becomes more and more available in local markets as it would be a nice addition to the selection of produce available locally…