Cured Chilacayote with Salsa (Chilacayote Curada en Cal)

Pujol, Mexico City, Enrique Olvera - March 2014

For 4 servings


  • 3 tsps. (14g) pickling lime
  • 1 gal. (3,789g) hot water
  • 1 lb. (454g) chilacayota squash (Cucurbita ficifolia), cut into 10” pieces
  • 4 3/4 tsps. (28g) salt
  • 4 3/4 tsps. (28g) sugar
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pasilla mixe chile (an Oaxacan passilla)
  1. Dissolve pickling lime in 1 cup hot water in very large nonreactive pot; add squash; cover with 2 qts. hot water; cover; reserve in refrigerator 8 hours.

  2. Bring salt, sugar, thyme, garlic, cinnamon, chile, and remaining 1 3/4 qts. hot water to a boil in large pot; drain squash; rinse; add to pot; cook until soft (about 1 hour); remove from heat; drain; place on baking sheet to drain; remove skin; cut some pieces into 3” by 1 1/2” rectangles; reserve.

Salsa de tomate:

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 pasilla mixe chile
  • 1/4 cup (43g) white onion, cut into very sm. dice
  • 2 Tbsps. (2g) cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat; add tomatoes; cook, turning occasionally, until skins are charred; remove from heat; let cool slightly; peel tomatoes; discard skins; return tomatoes to skillet; cook, turning, 10 seconds; remove from heat; place in a blender with chile (or pound in a molcajete); puree; place in airtight container; cover; reserve in refrigerator until cold.

  2. Stir onion and cilantro into puree; season with salt; cover; reserve into refrigerator.


  • 2 Tbsps. (28g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 basil sprouts
  1. Heat oven to 350°.

  2. Place cured chilacayotas on a baking sheet; roast until heated through; remove from oven; brush with oil; reserve (keep warm).

  3. To serve, divide chilacayotas among serving plates; spoon some salsa over; garnish each with 3 basil sprouts.