Fried Squash with Sage Honey, Parmesan and Pickled Chiles

Spicy, salty, tangy, sweet: Chef Gabriel Rucker brings many flavors together in a remarkably balanced starter.

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  • Servings: 8

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pickled chiles
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 sage leaves
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 Fresno or red jalapeño chiles, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
sage honey
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • One 3 1/4-pound butternut squash or sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon piment d’Espelette
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups rice flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups cold sparkling water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vodka
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed sage leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. Make the Pickled Chiles

    In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, salt, sage and nutmeg just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the chiles and let cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled.

  2. Make the Sage Honey

    In a saucepan, warm the honey, sage, nutmeg and a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. Let steep for 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, Prepare the Squash

    Preheat the oven to 375°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the butter and piment d’Espelette and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until just tender; let cool.

  4. Meanwhile, Prepare the Squash

    Spread 1/2 cup of the rice flour in a shallow bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour with the cornstarch and remaining 3/4 cup of rice flour. Whisk in the sparkling water, vodka and a pinch of salt until the batter is smooth.

  5. Meanwhile, Prepare the Squash

    Line 2 large baking sheets with paper towels. In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil over moderately high heat to 350°. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crispy sage to the paper towels to drain.

  6. Meanwhile, Prepare the Squash

    Working in 3 batches, dust the squash with the rice flour, then coat in the batter and fry until golden, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. Transfer the fried squash and sage leaves to a platter. Drizzle some of the sage honey on top and garnish with Parmigiano and some of the pickled chiles. Serve with lemon wedges, passing additional sage honey and pickled chiles at the table.

Make Ahead

The pickled chiles can be refrigerated in their liquid for up to 1 week. The roasted squash can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

Nutty sparkling wine.

Contributed By Photo © Cedric Angeles Published October 2014

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