Caramel-Braised Winter Squash with Jackfruit
4 to 6 servings
Squash and jackfruit (more on that in a sec) may not seem like an obvious combination, but braised together in a soy sauce caramel tinged with garlic, shallots, and lime…it’s kind of magic (and vegan). A word on buying Jackfruit: You want “young” or “green” canned jackfruit, not the fully ripe, stinky fruit. Stay away from the kind packed in syrup; choose a brand canned in water or brine and rinse it thoroughly to remove as much of the vinegary taste as possible.
1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds any winter squash
3 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
1 ⁄ 3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
3 ⁄ 4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 shallots, halved and sliced
8 ounces canned jackfruit, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ⁄ 2 cup chopped raw cashews
1 fresh red chile (like serrano or cayenne), minced, or to taste
1. Trim the squash and remove the seeds; if thick-skinned, peel it. Cut the squash into 1 1 ⁄ 2-inch chunks; you should have about 4 cups. Put 1 cup water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash, sprinkle with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the water bubbles gently, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, until you are just barely able to pierce the squash with a fork, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the type; do not over-cook. Drain the squash and let it sit in the colander. Rinse the skillet.
2. Mix the soy sauce and lime juice with 1 ⁄ 4 cup water in a small bowl. Put the sugar in the large skillet with 1 ⁄ 3 cup water, and stir. Cook, gently shaking the pan occasionally but not stirring, until the sugar liquefies and begins to bubble. When the sugar is melted, continue to cook, swirling and shaking the pan, until the caramel darkens to the color of iced tea, a minute or 2.
3. Lower the heat and add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the squash to the skillet along with the jackfruit, soy sauce mixture, and the pepper, and stir to coat. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and cook, undisturbed, until heated through, 2 or 3 minutes.
4. While the vegetables are cooking, put the cashews in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Taste the squash, adjust the seasoning, adding more lime juice if you like, and serve garnished with the cashews and chile.