Last weekend, my dear mama came to visit me in Massachusetts. Given the ongoing pandemic and the grim weather forecast, we decided spending the day redecorating my apartment and trying new recipes was the best game plan.
Outfitted with a new area rug, a delightful wooden whale for my bedroom wall (his name TBD), and a couple knick knacks for the bathroom, the apartment zhuzh was a success.
To make the most efficient use of our day of cooking and take advantage of autumn in New England, I decided that we’d have butternut squash three ways. My mom was already a big fan of roasted butternut squash, so I figured I could try to open her eyes to new recipes and hope that at least one recipe proved to be picky eater-approved.
On the menu was a variation of Emma Laperruque’s raw butternut squash salad, your garden-variety roasted butternut squash with garlic, and Gaby Dalkin’s creamy butternut squash pasta sauce with spaghetti.
First up was the salad. I was particularly intrigued by Emma’s recipe because I had never heard of anyone eating this squash raw. My version consisted of thinly sliced squash, jalapeños, feta cheese, vinegar, and honey. The creamy feta did wonders to neutralize the heat from the chiles (which I naively underestimated, having not had raw jalapeños in a while). The squash itself didn’t add a ton of flavor, but its smooth, crunchy texture made for a pleasant salad to snack on while the rest of dinner kept cooking.
So far, so good, squash.
Since the pasta sauce required us to roast some squash, we roasted a little extra and nibbled on that as the rest of the sauce came together. It was wonderfully sweet and absorbed the flavors of its roasting partners, garlic and shallots. Some of the edges got a little extra caramelization, and I could see why my mom was so excited about roasted butternut squash.
Two points for you, squash!
The last step of our three-course squash extravaganza was to puree the rest of our roasted squash with some chicken stock, almond milk (because that’s what I had), and feta (because. that’s. what. I. had.). With a little pasta cooking water, we had ourselves a smooth orange sauce and al dente spaghetti, ready for tossing. We also added some pan-fried pancetta for extra saltiness and crispiness (and because we fancy and because, when in doubt, add bacon).
I tried a couple forkfuls of the pasta and found it creamy, cheesy, salty, sweet. A completely different pasta dish than I had ever had before, having grown up on tomato sauces and pesto.
So I bet you’re thinking that we hit the trifecta of butternut squash recipes, and now I’m a new woman.
NOT SO, MY FRIENDS!
BECAUSE THEN I PROCEEDED TO PUKE MY BRAINS OUT.
Yep, just an orange, chunky mess all up in my toilet. The prevailing theory is that having never had butternut squash before, eating it raw may not have been the easiest way for my digestive system to adapt to it. My body literally rejected the idea of me trying something new. Proof that it isn’t all in my head!
So if you were feeling like my descriptions of each dish weren’t very vivid, it’s because right as we were sitting down to eat what had ultimately taken me a couple hours to make (there was some dilly-dallying and prosecco-drinking in between), my stomach started aching.
I forced myself to eat some of the roasted squash and pasta for the sake of the blog (the show must go on!), but it became quite apparent at some point that dinner wasn’t happening that night.
As I made my way to the bathroom with the hope/fear of throwing up, my mom asked if she should put the leftovers in the fridge or throw them out. In my haste, I said I didn’t care, but a few minutes later as all the day’s squash was staring me in the face again, I yelled “get it out of here!”
I didn’t even reach for dessert or prosecco for the rest of the night. That is what this squash did to me.
So, in the name of self-care, I’m listening to my body and enjoying hot dogs and baked french fries for dinner tonight. You’re welcome, body.
Sorry, guys, but I’m never eating butternut squash again. You know how it is. It’s not the vegetable’s fault—you just can’t come back from that kind of deficit. Under other circumstances, I probably would’ve finished my serving of all three courses, but flavor does not trump the psychological trauma of puking and never will. It is the picky eater way.
So, yeah, you can try to tell me how you like this winter squash best in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles, but you can’t take back the past. Maybe I can ease my way back in with delicata or acorn squash? Sell me on those, and give up on butternut with me 🙂
Side note: Mama’s weekend visit ended on a much sweeter note Sunday morning, when we made Genevieve Ko’s pumpkin ginger oat scones for breakfast. Those were much more successful, and there was no vomit to be seen. Sugar will never betray me.