Even with its few references to “man salads” (what does that mean? can I not dig a hearty salad?), Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons was far and away my favorite cookbook of 2017. I have been reaching for it constantly all summer, and can’t wait to tuck into some of the fall and winter recipes. This dish offers a totally new-to-me way enjoy squash – raw! With brown butter, pecans, and currants, it still feels squarely wintry.
½ cup dried currants
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 pound of pumpkin or butternut squash
½ teaspoon dried chile flakes
Salt and pepper
¼ unsalted butter or vegan butter*
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pumpkin seed oil (optional)
½ cup lightly packed mint leaves (or substitute parsley)
½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
Put the currants in a little bowl and add the vinegar. Let them soak for 30 minutes.
Trim the scallions, including about 2 inches worth on the green part. Thinly slice them (at an angle if you are feeling fancy) and soak them in ice water for 20 minutes or so, then drain them thoroughly.
Peel and seed the squash or pumpkin. Use a vegetable peeler to slice off thin ribbons of squash. If you run into hard bits, just use a knife to slice them as thinly as you can! The pieces don’t need to be uniform – just nice to eat.
Put the squash in a large bowl and add the currants with their vinegar, the scallions, the chile flakes, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and taste. Adjust the seasoning if it’s not quite right.
Brown the butter! Melt it in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep cooking the butter, swirling the pan every few seconds. The milk solids in the bottom of the pan will turn a deep golden brown and start to smell nice and nutty, which will take about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the pan. This technique should also work for vegan butter, but you could also gently heat an equal amount of olive oil and add a bit of balsamic butter to enrich the flavor.
Once the butter is browned, pour it over the squash and toss it to coat all the slices. Add the olive oil and a little drizzle of pumpkin seed oil if you have it. Toss it again, and taste. Does it need anything else? If not, add the mint and pecans, toss one more time, and serve right away.