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Recipe: Lidia Bastianich's winter squash

(CBS News) The following recipes comes courtesy of chef Lidia Bastianich.

Squash is not one of the most popular vegetables, but I love squash and I love cooking with it. It is nutritious, versatile and delicious. Northern Italy consumes more zucca -- winter squash -- than Southern Italy, especially in the areas near Modena in Emiglia Romagna and Padova in the Veneto.

This is a great side dish or appetizer. Traditionally the zucca is fried before it is marinated, as I do here, but it is also delicious when made with grilled or boiled zucca. I recommend butternut squash but acorn, hubbard, and other varieties will work as well.

Marinated Winter Squash
Zucca Gialla in Marinata
Serves 6 or more as an appetizer or side dish

Ingredients:

1 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt or more to taste
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
A butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 cup vegetable oil or as needed
8-10 fresh basil leaves

Recommended equipment:

A heavy-bottomed skillet or saute pan, 12-inches diameter or larger
A 6-cup glass or ceramic casserole dish, preferably about 6-inches wide, to marinate the squash in several layers

Directions:

Mix the vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt together in a small saucepan. Over high heat, reduce by half. Remove from the heat, drop in the garlic slices and let the marinade cool. Stir in the olive oil.

Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out all the seeds. Peel the halves, place cut-side down and cut crosswise, into 1/3-inch thick half rounds.

Pour vegetable oil into the skillet to the depth of 1/8-inch and set over medium-high heat. When the oil sizzles on contact with squash, fill the pan with a layer of slices, spaced slightly apart. Fry for about 3 minutes on the first side then flip the slices over. Fry on the second side another 2 or 3 minutes until the slices are cooked through (easy to pierce with the tines of a fork), crisped on the surface and caramelized on the edges.

Lift out the slices with a slotted spoon, draining off oil, and lay them on paper towels. Sprinkle salt lightly on the hot slices. Fry up all the squash, in batches, the same way.

Arrange a single layer of fried squash in the bottom of the marinating dish and scatter 4 or 5 basil leaves on top. Stir up the marinade and drizzle over a couple of spoonfuls. Scatter some of the garlic slices on the squash too. Layer all the squash in the dish this way, topping each layer of fried slices with basil leaves, garlic and marinade. All the seasonings should be used -- drizzle any remaining marinade over the top layer of squash.

Wrap the dish in plastic and marinate the squash for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight in the refrigerator. If chilled, let the squash return to room temperature before serving.

Roasted Winter Squash
6 servings

By roasting the vegetable here, the squash -- like Cinderella -- is transformed. It becomes the centerpiece rather than a side dish.


Ingredients:
3 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, buttercup or acorn squash
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, for the baking sheet

Ingredients for serving (optional):
1/2 cup or so orange sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons Balsamic reduction for drizzling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the squash in half through the stem and blossom ends. Scoop out all the seeds and fibers so the flesh is clean. Place each half cut-side down and, with a sharp chef's knife, cut straight across to trim the ends of the squash. Then cut the squash into even slices (cutting cross-wise) or wedges (cutting lengthwise) -- all about 2-inches thick at the widest part.

Remove the peel from the squash slices with a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife. (With acorn squash, strip off the peel just from the top of the ridges; this will help the pieces cook faster and creates a decorative striped look.)

Pile the squash in a mixing bowl, drizzle the oil and sprinkle the salt over the pile and toss to coat the slices with the seasonings. Spread the butter on a large baking sheet (or line it with a non-stick silicon sheet.). Lay the slices flat on the sheet with plenty of space between them for even caramelization.

Bake about 20 minutes then flip the pieces over; bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until they are tender all the way through (poke with a fork to check) and nicely caramelized on the edges.

Serve hot, piling up the squash pieces on top of a pool of orange sauce; drizzle Balsamic reduction in thin streaks all over the top.

The squash is also delicious with just one of the sauces or with only a final drizzle of good olive oil and another sprinkle of salt before serving by itself!

For more info:


See more recipes from "Sunday Morning"'s 2013 "Food Issue"

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