Once every month in 2016, D is For Dinner is reconnecting with chefs who appeared on the segment last year and presenting them with a challenge posed by All In A Day listeners.

This month's challenge comes from listener Joanne Mitchell, whose favourite vegetable is butternut squash.

"Whenever I am cutting it up to cook in the oven, I cut myself a thin slice or two to eat raw and think to myself, 'This would be good in a salad — something like a slaw, grated with oil and vinegar," writes Mitchell.

"Given how many times I have thought this, it seems unlikely that I will ever get around to it. I would like to see what somebody else can do with raw butternut squash."

Taking on Mitchell's challenge are Adam Vettorel of North & Navy, Jean-Claude Chartrand of Restaurant l'Orée du Bois, and Erin Thornton — the "recipe aficianado" for the Society of Creative Anachronism, and one of last year's big winners in the show's Food Fantasy competition.

Try their recipes below.

North & Navy's Pickled Butternut Squash

Ingredients (pickling liquid)

  • 160 g sugar
  • 200 g water
  • 200 g white wine vinegar 
  • 200 g white wine
  • 5 g kosher salt 
  • 5 peppercorns

Ingredients (other)

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • thick Greek yogurt as needed 
  • squash seeds, lightly salted
  • thinly sliced shallots
  • white anchovies
  • finely cut parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • good olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Peel the butternut squash and cut vertically, dividing the seed-filled bulb at the bottom from the cylindrical top.
  2. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife and a steady hand, slice the squash into disks that are as thin as possible and place in a heat-proof container with enough room to accommodate the pickling liquid.
  3. In a stove-top pot, combine the ingredients for the pickling liquid and bring to a simmer.
  4. Remove liquid from heat and allow to cool until it's no longer hot enough to cook the squash. 
  5. Pass the liquid through a strainer to remove the peppercorns.
  6. Cover the squash disks with the warm pickling liquid and steep for at least an hour. (You can also add the sliced shallots to the pickling liquid, or leave them unpickled.)
  7. As the squash steeps, separate the butternut squash seeds from the bottom of the sqaush and lightly toast in a pan with some salt. Set aside and cool. 
  8. After an hour, spread enough yogurt — using a spatula or the back of a spoon — to thinly cover a serving plate.
  9. Remove the squash from the pickling liquid and dab on a clean paper towel to remove excess liquid.
  10. Lay the squash disks on top of the yogurt, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with the shallots, anchovies and parsley.
  11. Drizzle with olive oil.
  12. Alternately, you can make the dish without pickling the squash at all and instead simply garnish it with salt, pepper and a generous amount of lemon, like an Italian crudo.

Restaurant l'Orée du Bois's Butternut Squash Salad

Raw butternut squash salad with mango, Asian pear, fresh coriander and lime

Raw butternut squash salad with mango, Asian pear, fresh coriander and lime. (Jean-Claude Chartrand)

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (850 g)
  • 2 mangoes (450 g)
  • 2 Asian pears (450 g)
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 limes 
  • 100 g honey
  • 75 g fish sauce
  • 60 g ginger
  • 2 g chili flakes
  • 24 large shrimp
  • Ground peanuts
  • butter for frying

Instructions:

  1. Peel the squash, julienne and put in ice cold water for half an hour.
  2. Peel the mangoes and the Asian pears and also julienne.
  3. For the dressing, combine the honey, fish sauce, chili flakes and lime juice.
  4. Peel and finely chop the ginger.
  5. Coarsely chop the cilantro.
  6. Pan-fry the shrimp for about two minutes in a small dash of butter, preferably garlic butter if possible.
  7. Straining the squash and pat it dry, then add it and the cilantro, ginger, mangoes, pears and dressing into a salad bowl.
  8. Mix well.
  9. Add the shrimp and garnish the salad with the chopped peanuts.

Erin Thornton's Refrigerator Squash Pickles

mason jar raw pickle butternut squash pickles

Pickled butternut squash in two Mason jars. (Erin Thornton)

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash 
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. sea or kosher salt
  • 8 green cardamom pods (4 opened to get the seeds, 4 full pods)
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 long peppers (can also use black peppercorns)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cut in half

Instructions:

  1. Peel the squash and cut off the neck.
  2. Slice the squash into ¼-inch matchsticks (you can also cube, but it may take longer for the flavour to infuse the squash).
  3. Place squash matchsticks in a bowl, sprinkle with some salt to get the excess water out, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  4. While the squash rests, begin the brine. In a saucepan, bring the cider vinegar, water, salt and honey to a simmer until the honey melts.
  5. As it heats up, drain and rinse the squash and dry with paper towels.
  6. Divide the cardamom, cloves, saffron, peppers, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks between two Mason jars.
  7. Put the squash matchsticks in the jars and top with the brine, leaving ½-inch of space at the top of each jar.
  8. Let cool and place in the refrigerator. Let sit overnight or longer.