Sweet and Mashed Squash Meets Salty and Savory Olives and Capers

Asparagus is sprouting in the garden, fiddleheads are emerging in a few places, and some of us have spinach and parsnips in our gardens left from last year. Even as this household moves onto these new vegetables, I am eyeing the contents of the cellar and freezer, and figuring out how to use up the last of the carrots and frozen winter squash.

I like almost any one of the orange squashes—butternut, buttercup, Kabocha, Hubbard—alone, or cooked and mashed together with carrots, a kind of feast on Vitamin A. If I had sweet potatoes around, I’d include them, too. I am happy to wallow in all this good orange stuff, with maybe just a bit of brown sugar stirred in–not much, just a touch–then butter, salt, and pepper on it. Mmmm.

For some reason or other, though, a week or so ago, I had an urge to go a savory route. I sautéed a little garlic, added the squash, then made a mixture of onions, black olives, and capers, sautéed in olive oil to put on top of the squash. Toby and I liked it well enough that he said, “This is good enough to put in Tastebuds.”

Though I used squash alone, you can use other sweetish orange vegetables by themselves or in combination. I’m pretty sure they’d benefit from this treatment. Start with the recommended amount of olive oil, but add more if your mixture looks a little dry. It ought to slip smoothly off a spoon. Use real Kalamata olives or any other tender and flavorful pitted ripe olives, preferably not canned black olives.

I served the savory mixture on top of the squash because it looked better than it would if it were all stirred in, which is what I did as I ate it.

Many thanks for all the lemon pie recipes. I have quite a few, and so it will take a bit of time for me to work through them and report. Stay tuned.

Squash with Savory Sauce

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
½ to ¾ cup of black olives, coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons capers, drained
2 to 3 servings of cooked winter squash
Put the oil in a heavy pan, and cook the onions in it over a medium low heat until they are very soft. Add the olives and capers, and more oil if the mixture is a bit dry or stiff. Cook altogether for at least five minutes, or cook ahead and re-warm as needed. Spoon some of the mixture over the heated squash before serving.

Makes a scant cup of sauce.

Looking for…..LeonNa Gilbert, who reads Tastebuds from down South, wrote to ask “Have you ever come across a recipe for Tuscan bread? I’ve been searching for one and have yet to find one.” LeonNa makes bread and told me about a Swiss loaf she makes and beer bread. She’d like to add rustic-sounding Tuscan loaf to her collection. Anyone have such a thing?

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.