10 Aug2008

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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COMMENTS:

  1. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    I too enjoyed this side dish!!!! It was refreshing and a great starter. I will make a mental note to find out where Rustan’s Cebu got them.

    Aug 10, 2008 | 3:14 pm

     
  2. marygrace says:

    served a similar salad once, adding some zuchini and mushrooms and dressed the salad with a simple balsamic vinegar, more olive oil, lime juice, s&P. the salad was wiped out in no time at all. we did not have a fantastic looking lechon like yours though.

    Aug 10, 2008 | 3:58 pm

     
  3. sister says:

    Next time try blanching the squash for 1-2 minutes to half cook it, then brush with seasoned butter or olive oil before grilling and it will be fork tender.

    Aug 10, 2008 | 4:42 pm

     
  4. kongwi says:

    back home last july, i bought some butternut squash at the “bagsakan” area of balintawak market… i too was surprised… they’re actually cheaper than the regular round ones… P22 per piece compared to the P25 per piece for the round ones… great for squash soup…

    Aug 10, 2008 | 7:05 pm

     
  5. Cumin says:

    I’ve never seen or tasted butternut squash. Is the taste/texture very different from our kalabasa? Would kalabasa be appropriate for this salad kaya?

    Aug 10, 2008 | 9:55 pm

     
  6. thelma says:

    i like butternut squash a lot. when i am able to buy the bigger ones, i cut them into small diamond shapes (it doesn’t need to be perfectly cut) and cook them in water/brown sugar mixture. after they get soft, on top of each i put brown sugar, a dot of butter and a dash of cinnamon…bake them for 10-15 minutes until the sugar and butter dissolves…yummy!

    Aug 10, 2008 | 10:25 pm

     
  7. ragamuffin girl says:

    i love butternut squash and always make a grilled salad out of it, mixed with black olives, fresh rosemary, some pancetta or bacon and feta cheese. Yum!

    Aug 10, 2008 | 10:27 pm

     
  8. betty q. says:

    Hey Thelma,

    I plant butternut squash among other squashes every year…I plant them …just the butternuts ONLY in a separate plot (they cross pollinate) because I am after this kind of Butternut…it is called REALLY BIG BUTTERNUT!!! I kid you not! …that is what it says on the packet and It is the BIGGEST I have ever grown and laid my eyes on. I got mega seeds!!! both in quantity and quality! If you want, I will look up my planting notes and tell you what I did. I got the seeds ages ago from a company called Lindenberg Seeds…a Canadian grower. I am sure there are other seed companies in the States where you can get them….will send you an e-mail when we get back home in a few weeks…

    Aug 11, 2008 | 12:11 am

     
  9. lyna says:

    you could also griill lemon slices to mix with your salad.

    Aug 11, 2008 | 10:16 am

     
  10. Lee says:

    nice pic of the cut up vegetables in the foreground with the bigger, healthier veggie at the back. sooo vegan.

    Aug 11, 2008 | 12:02 pm

     
  11. joey says:

    Gil Carandang had butternut squash in the Salcedo Market! They told me they are growing them so I hope this means the start of it being more available! :)

    Aug 11, 2008 | 2:25 pm

     
  12. melissa says:

    Hi MM and everyone, does anyone have a recipe for butternut squash soup? Locally, Cibo is the best in my opinion, I’ve been trying to replicate it at home but I haven’t come close!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 10:56 pm

     
  13. kayenne says:

    were the butternut squash locally produced?

    Aug 11, 2008 | 11:49 pm

     
  14. betty q. says:

    Hllo Melissa,…Unfortunately, I have no clue what Cibo’s butternut squash soup taste like for I haven’t been there for a looooooooong time! Anyway, I used to work with one of Vancouver’s finest executive chefs and this is how we did it…wash the squash really well and then pierce it in a few places if it’s small. If it’s huge, then cut in half, season and add a bit of olive oil. Place it on a cookie sheet and roast it at 400 degrees until it’s nicely caramelized and soft. We use a mixture of Kabocha (japanese squash much like the local squash there) and butternut. When it’s soft, cool it down a bit and scrape the pulp. Set it aside. Then saute quite a bit of shallots until soft and caramelized. If you want a little kick, add a BIT of minced ginger. Then add your squash, season and add whatever spices you want ….we put a bit of curry so it has only a HINT of curry, thyme. Add vegetable stock or chicken stock. Let it come to a boil and then simmer. Then puree using an immersion blender. We make huge quantities of this soup …cool it down and then store in containers. When ready to serve, then we put the soup d’ jour in an insert, then put it in the steamer or pot to heat it up and then we add the CREAM at that time. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and I add bits of lobster, or dungeness crab or whatever leftovers we have….I do this ONLY for home consumption. Let me know if this is what you are looking for…

    Aug 12, 2008 | 12:23 am

     
  15. Marketman says:

    melissa and betty q, yes, I agree with betty’s wonderful recipe. You need to roast the squash first to intensify the flavors, then use a nicely done stock to give the soup even more flavor and use a touch of cream at the end… kayenne, I think the squash are grown locally, but only appear in the markets sporadically. As Joey mentioned, they are sometimes spotted in Salcedo and Legaspi markets, and this was the first time I have seen them in Rustan’s supermarket! Lee, so glad you appreciated the juxtaposition, it was for vegans like you, specifically. :) lyna, lemon, hmmm… nice one, I didn’t think of that, but it would have added a touch of acid, nice. ragamuffin girl, that salad sounds terrific as well! Thelma, yum! The sugar and butter would make it even richer and sweeter! Cumin, I find that the butternut squashes, especially if larger, have a denser and sweeter pulp. Our kalabasa can sometimes be a bit watery and fibrous. However, I do love our kalabasa for many dishes, and like butternut squash soup, I can use kalabasa that is also baked to intensify the flavors and reduce moisture. kongwi, at the bagsakan? Geez, I have been looking in the wrong places! sister, will try the blanching next time, thanks! marygrace, yes lime or balsamic would have been a nice touch to this salad, if I had some at the time… Artisan, glad you liked it!

    Aug 12, 2008 | 6:58 am

     
  16. melissa says:

    Wow thanks so much betty q and MM! Your recipe sounds amazing. I will have to go to the Salcedo market soon to look for butternut squash and try it. Will let you know how it turns out. Cibo’s soup has bacon in it I think, will try adding that!

    Aug 14, 2008 | 8:21 pm

     
 

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