Simmered Squash with Pickled Pine Nuts and Chili Oil

We all love a roasted squash dish in the winter, but this recipe is here to prove that simmered squash, in all its soft, comforting glory, deserves a spot at your dinner table. I was inspired to embrace mushy squash after having an incredible banchan from Joodooboo in Oakland: winter squash simmered in anchovy dashi. In this recipe, butternut squash is simmered until tender in a garlic, miso, and parmesan broth, then topped with pickled pine nuts (my new obsession), mint, and lots and lots of chili oil. It’s delicious hot, but even better cold the next day, so feel free to make a big batch and eat the leftovers with rice and fried eggs throughout the week. Best of all, it’s easily made vegan with a few small adjustments. 

Recipe Notes

  • Thin skinned squash like butternut or honeynut work great, but you could certainly use a thicker skinned squash like kabocha. I opted for honeynut out of pure laziness.
  • For chili oil, I love Lee Kum Kee pepercorn chili oil for some Sichuan tingliness, but any other chili oil or chili crisp would work great.


Simmered Squash with Pickled Pine Nuts and Chili Oil

Course: MainDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

sides
Time

1

hour 

In this recipe, butternut squash is simmered until tender in a garlic, miso, and parmesan broth, then topped with pickled pine nuts (my new obsession), mint, and lots and lots of chili oil.

Ingredients

  • For the simmered squash
  • 2 heads garlic

  • Oil

  • 1 parmesan rind (omit for vegan)

  • 10 cups water

  • 1.75-2 pounds whole squash, like butternut, honeynut, or kabocha.

  • ⅓ cup red miso paste

  • 1-2 tbsp butter (omit for vegan)

  • ½ tsp ground

  • ½ tsp ground coriander

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • A generous handful of chopped mint

  • Chili oil, for topping (I like the Lee Kum Kee peppercorn chili oil, but this would also be a great place for chili crisp)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • For the pickled pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • A generous pinch of red pepper flakes

  • 1 Bay leaf

  • ½ tsp salt

Directions

  • Slice the garlic heads in half horizontally. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and lightly coat the bottom of the pan in oil. Place the garlic, cut side down, in the pot. You should hear a gentle sizzle. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant, then add the water, along with the parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for at least 25-30 minutes, while you prep your squash and make your pine nuts.
  • Place all the ingredients for the pickled pine nuts in a small saucepan and bring to simmer. Simmer until the pine nuts are plump and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.
  • Next, peel and cube the squash. For butternut, I like to slice off the ends, then use a peeler to remove the skin. Slice the squash down the middle lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1.5 inch cubes (no need to be obsessive).
  • When the broth has simmered, remove the garlic and parmesan rind (straining will ensure nothing is left behind, but scooping out with a slotted spoon also works in a pinch). Add in the miso paste, along with a generous pinch of salt. Taste the broth, you want it to be quite salty. Bring the broth back to a gentle boil, and then add the squash. Return to a simmer and cook until the squash is very soft, about 15-20 minutes. You want it to be borderline mushy, while still holding its shape.
  • Strain the squash and place in a bowl along with the butter, cumin, coriander, ¾ of the pine nuts, and lemon zest. Use a spoon to stir everything together. You want the edges of the squash to get mushy, while the centers remain intact. You are not making mashed squash! Taste a piece and then add salt and freshly ground pepper to your liking.
  • Place into a serving bowl and top with the rest of the pine nuts and chopped mint. Generously drizzle on the chili oil and serve. This dish also tastes wonderful cold, so no need to reheat the leftovers.

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