I developed this versatile, quick-to-fix condiment to feature a sustainable, innovative ingredient: roasted butternut squash seed oil, created collaboratively two years ago by Cornell University and a nearby squash farmer who sought a use for hundreds of pounds of seeds he previously discarded when prepping squash for upstate New York supermarkets.
Since this artisanal oil first was marketed, I have enjoyed using it as a drizzle on butternut squash soup, squash puree, etc. This relish is definitely my new favorite use, with its earthy, nutty, and nuanced flavors accenting entrees (think lamb, pork tenderloin, duck breasts), salads and crostini.
Salad and Crostini Variations:
For salad, top lightly dressed arugula greens with squash relish.
For appetizer crostini, spread wholegrain baguette toasts with chevre or other spreadable cheese (preferably artisanal New York); top with Squash “Duet.” Garnish with snipped chives. Optional: serve with a tablespoon of additional butternut squash seed oil in a petite pitcher (with an eyedropper or tiny spoon) to top each crostini with a couple more drops of butternut squash seed oil.
My creation is a ‘distant-cousin, twice-removed’ of Michele Scicolone’s Roasted Sweet and Sour Winter Squash (marinated with red wine vinegar and fresh mint) that I’ve been making for nearly twenty years.
black garlic cloves
2 cups cubed butternut squash, ½-inch dice
½ teaspoon smoked salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed mace blades
2 tablespoons buckwheat honey, preferably New York State
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar (4.5 percent acidity)
Peel black garlic cloves. If garlic is too moist or sticky to slice easily, wrap in foil or plastic wrap and place in freezer for a few minutes. Mince garlic into 1/8-inch pieces.
Use your choice of microwave or stovetop to steam squash with 2 tablespoons water until tender-crisp, but not soft. (Depending upon specific microwave power settings, time on High setting may range from 2 to 3 minutes). Drain and allow to cool slightly.
In bowl, gently combine squash, garlic, salt, pepper and mace.
Whisk together honey and vinegar. Gradually add oil. It is not essential for this to become emulsified. Add to squash and mix gently.
Stir in sriracha according to your preference. Best if flavors meld for at least one hour before serving.
If made further in advance, refrigerate but bring to room temperature (or slightly cooler) before serving.
Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, sriracha) before serving as a condiment alongside entrees or as one of the variations described in headnote. If desired for added color and an additional flavor "punch," stir in fresh arugula before serving.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to two weeks. Freeze for longer storage, without impairing flavor or texture.
Chestnut honey instead of buckwheat.
Sherry vinegar instead of brown rice vinegar (but compare acidity strength).
Expeller-pressed roasted pumpkin seed oil instead of butternut squash seed oil.
Roasted garlic cloves instead of black garlic.
*sold by Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods online and at multiple specialty markets and supermarkets.