Deb Perelman takes squash very seriously. In fact, she’s been introducing herself on her blog the same way for over 15 years: “Deb Perelman is the kind of person you might innocently ask what the difference is between summer and winter squash,” she wrote on her blog in the mid-2000s, “and she’ll go on for about twenty minutes before coming up for air to a cleared room and you soundly snoring.”
Now, with the release of her third highly-anticipated cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers, Deb’s ability to talk squash taxonomy is as strong as ever. “You have summer squashes that cook quickly and are very buttery,” she begins. “Then you have something that’s also called squash. And if you drop it on your foot, you could break a toe.” This is a recipe for the latter, but the risks are more than worth the reward – the result is a beautiful dish, well worth its description as “centerpiece squash.”
Living in NYC, where specialty food shops abound, Deb has access to dozens of squash varieties to choose from. Her personal favourites are kabocha and red kuri – but any acorn or butternut will come to life with this recipe. The squash is prepared with a technique that Deb has honed over the course of a year or so: a braising of sorts where the squash is browned and then cooked. Next, a broth and vinegar mixture is added, but in moderation. “You don’t drown it in a liquid, you’re not boiling it in a liquid, but you’re adding something it can drink up. It kind of absorbs into it,” she explains. “I love the way you get both the caramelization and the infusion of flavours.”
The dish can be served as is, or dress it up by smearing Greek Yogurt in a swirl on the serving platter, toss some arugula with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and scatter over the yogurt. Arrange the braised squash on top.
Braised Winter Squash Wedges
- 2 1⁄4 - 2 1⁄2 lbs winter squash about 1⁄2 kabocha or red kuri squash
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1⁄4 cup apple-cider vinegar
- 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- 2 cups baby arugula leaves
- Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp, then slice the halves into 1 1⁄2-inch wedges. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil to a 10-by-15-inch baking sheet, and place in the oven until the butter melts, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven, and roll the butter around so that it evenly coats the pan. Arrange the squash wedges in one layer, and sprinkle with thyme, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, or until deeply browned underneath. Flip the slices, and season the second side on top with another 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and more pepper. Scatter the garlic cloves in the pan, and return the pan to the oven to roast for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the wedges are browned on the second side. Don’t worry if the squash isn’t fully cooked yet. Carefully pour the broth and vinegar into the pan, and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the squash is tender and the liquid is somewhat cooked off.
- Use the back of a spoon to swirl plain yogurt onto a serving platter into a thin layer. Toss the arugula with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and scatter over the yogurt. Arrange the squash wedges on top, scrape out every bit of pan juice that’s left, and pour it over the squash.