Hot Combo: Chiles & Winter Squash
By Terese Allen | Photos By Jim Klousia 0
Opposites attract—that’s as true in cooking as it is in love. Witness the marriage of chiles and winter squash. These two fall harvest favorites, both native to the Americas, couldn't be more dissimilar. Winter squash is dense, hard-fleshed and mild in flavor. Chile peppers are juicy and pliable, and while many appear delicately puny, just a little of their addictive spiciness goes a very long way.
But as we all know, contrast can be a good thing. The sweetness and soft texture of cooked winter squash are perfect backdrops for the zing of hot peppers. So it’s no wonder they’ve been paired together in Central, South and North American (and Wisconsin) cuisines for a very long time. And ever since the Spanish conquistadores began bringing both kinds of vegetables to other parts of the globe, squashes and chiles have been making beautiful music together all over the world.
A word of caution: chiles and squash both have their dangerous sides. Wear gloves when working with volatile raw chiles, or wash your hands well afterwards. And never use a dull knife when peeling raw squash; the extra pressure needed with an unsharpened blade can cause the knife to slip. You can use a sharp potato peeler for the smooth-skinned varieties like butternut squash, but for ridges or bumpy types, clip an end off the whole squash, place it flat end down on a cutting board and use a chef’s knife to cut it into smaller pieces. Then use a small, thin-bladed knife to peel the chunks.
Try the hot combo of squash and chiles with some of these delicious, fall recipes: