Roasted Squash (Zucca al Forno)

It is squash time of year again and you just know you are going to be inundated with them. This is really the simplest way of dealing with them. No need to skin them, it all goes in, even the seeds. Eat it on its own, as a side dish or chuck into salad, pasta or soup.

Roasted Squash (Zucca al Forno)

1 large squash, whatever you have got

1 pinch dried red chilli

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 large handful fresh sage leaves

1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces

olive oil

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Halve the butternut squash, remove and reserve the seeds, then cut the squash into slices or chunks with the skin left on and put in a bowl. Add the whole sage leaves, the pieces of cinnamon, a pinch of chilli flakes, salt and pepper and enough olive oil to rub the whole lot over all the squash pieces so they are well covered. Place the squash in one layer in a roasting tray. Sprinkle over the seeds, cover tightly with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the skin of the squash is soft, then remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes until the squash is golden and crisp. Remove the cinnamon.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin

Everyone knows I am always making vegetable gratins or all shapes and sizes, so it is a complete mystery to me why I have never before made a butternut squash variety. So, I put my mind to it and came up with the idea of putting a layer of spinach hidden in the middle.

Always trying to push the boundaries, especially time saving ones, just so I can share them with you, I experimented putting the spinach in raw and letting it cook in the cream I was really pleased with the result.

There is something so comforting about spinach and cream. Sort of nursery food. Just what we need as the nights draw in.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin

I used baby spinach but I recon true spinach could work the same way as long as the stems where removed and it was quite small and tender. It would also have to be washed as true spinach can be gritty, and drained very well so that the gratin did not become watery.

1 large butternut squash

600mls double cream

100mls milk

3 cloves of garlic

Couple of sprigs of rosemary

2 large handfuls of baby spinach

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the cream and the milk in a large saucepan with the garlic and rosemary. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down and let the mixture boil away very gently for about 30 minutes. Make sure it does not boil over or catch on the bottom. Stir very now and then. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 170C. Peel the butternut squash with a knife. It is easier to do this if you cut it in half where the straight part of the squash begins to fatten.  Remove the seeds and cut the sqash into thin slices. I used a mandolin. Place half the slices in the bottom of a gratin dish. Add the spinach and cover with the remaining slices. Remove the cream from the heat and season really well with salt and plenty of pepper. Pour the cream through a course sieve over the gratin. Cover with tin foil and bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, removing the tinfoil for the last 10 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving

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Butternut Squash Falafel with Tahini Sauce

The thing I hate most about the school holidays, apart from having two squabbling children under my feet for most to the day, is having to produce endless lunches.  Weather permitting the best option by far is picnics every day. Kids are out of the house, so much more space, less mess and no clearing up. These falafel are great stuffed in a pitta with some salad. They are baked rather than fried, so healthier too. Add some hummus for the kids and chilli sauce for you.  Lunch sorted!

Butternut Squash Falafel with Tahini Sauce

1 small butternut squash

3 tins chickpeas

Small bunch of chopped coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cloves garlic, minced

45g gram flour

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Tahini Sauce

3 tablespoons tahini

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Peel butternut squash, cut in half, lengthwise, remove seeds and chop into bite size pieces. Toss the butternut squash with salt, pepper and olive oil and tip onto a backing sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Roast butternut squash until fork tender, 40-45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Place butternut squash in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the chick peas and pulse until you have a course mixture. Add mixture to a large bowl. Add the coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic, flour and cayenne to bowl and use your hands to mix until everything is evenly combined. Form the mixture into patties (however large or small your like) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each falafel with a small amount of olive oil and bake falafel patties at 180 until browned on both sides, flipping once, 35-40 minutes.

Make the sauce while the falafel is baking. Mix all ingredients together the tahini and lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Add enough water until you get a drizzling consistency. Drizzle desired amount of sauce on top of falafel before enjoying and eat with salad or in a pita if desired.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

I permanently seem to have butternut squash to use up at the moment. No matter how many recipes I think up for this blog, there still always seems to be yet another half of one in my fridge. So here is yet another idea – Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola. Really delicious, it will make you wish that you had squash to use up every day.

Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Gorgonzola

Chicken stock is best for this risotto but vegetable stock is fine as well. If it is not home-made use a good quality cube like Kello.

½ butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and ciubed

Extra virgin olive oil

100g butter

1 leek, shredded and washed

100mls white wine

1 litre stock – either home-made of from cubes.

200g risotto rice

75g Parmesan, finely grated

Gorgonzola or another blue cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Toss the diced butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip onto a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the leek and a good pinch of salt and gently fry without colour until softened for about 10 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for a minute more and then add the wine. Keep stirring. It is banging the grains of rice together which releases the starch which makes your risotto creamy. Gradually start to add the stock a ladleful at a time. When the liquid has just about been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Keep cooking like this for 20-25 mins until the rice is chewy but not chalky. Add the butternut squash, parmesan and the rest of the butter but do not stir, and leave to sit covered for a minute or two. Finally give the risotto a good stir and crumble the blue cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

Tom Kha with Butternut Squash

Tom Kha Gai, the delicious Thai soup, literally translates as Soup Galangal Chicken. Sounds better in Thai!  My variation misses out the chicken and instead replaces it with butternut squash. They don’t have a word for butternut squash in Thailand. Or maybe they do. Listen to the translation in the link. So I simply call this soup Tom Kha with Butternut Squash. Whatever you call it, it is delicious. The clean, vibrant flavours of the lemon grass and lime leaves combine with the heat of the chilli and coconut milk and contrast brilliantly with the richness of the butternut squash.

Tom Kha with Butternut Squash

Work at getting the balance just right, add more lime juice, chilli, Nam Pla etc to taste. It should be sour, salty, sweet and hot.

Serves 2

½  butternut squash, skin and seeds removed & cubed

1 stick lemongrass, bashed

4 kaffir limes leaves (fresh or frozen)

1 small handful fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)

1 thumb-size piece galangal, bashed

1-2 thai red or green chillies

1 can good-quality coconut milk

1  lime squeezed

2 tbsp fish sauce ( Nam Pla) Optional for vegetarians

fresh coriander leaves finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200C degrees. Add butternut squash to a baking sheet and toss with a little coconut oil and a bit of sea salt. Roast for 15-25 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the meantime, add coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, Thai basil, chillies and lime leaves to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer. If you want more heat from the chillies then gently squeeze them to release the heat. Add fish sauce to taste. Allow the infuse until all the flavours come through. Add some lime juice to taste. Strain and pour back into the saucepan with the butternut squash. Re-heat and serve with coriander leaves.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

There seems to be a overwhelming number of variations on hummus these days. Sometimes in the supermarkets it is hard to even find the old-fashioned chickpea variety. Deliciously Ella has about 10 different types on her blog – Roasted Carrot, Sun-dried Tomato, Basil – I could go on. So  I decided to try out a few at home and was quite pleased with this Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus. I always seem to have half a butternut squash hanging around and I guess it add a few more vitamins to chickpeas alone and it went down well as half-term lunch, served up with crudités and pitta bread. It also works well with roast red peppers and a little cumin, so I am giving you that recipe too.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

½ butternut squash

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven 200C. Put peppers on a tray and roast until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. Remove and place in a bowl covered with cling film, or in a sealed Tupperware, to allow them to steam. When cool enough to handle gently peel away the charred pepper skin and remove the stalk and seeds. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Roast Red Pepper Hummus with Cumin

2 whole red peppers

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven 200C.  Roast the peppers in the oven until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. This should take about 30 minutes. The blackening adds a smokiness to the flavour of the pepper and makes the skins easy to remove. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with cling film to steam a while. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds.  Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Chickpea, Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

I have been making Thai Curry with Butternut Squash for years but for some reason it never occurred to me to make and Indian Curry with it instead. Butternut squash is very dense and very rich so it is important to cut it with another vegetable. Cauliflower works really well and along with the chickpeas adds texture and interest. As always, I prefer to roast the veg and add them to the sauce at the end.

I think this intensifies the individual flavours of the vegetables as well as stopping the vegetable becoming overcooked.

Chickpea,  Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

3 tablespoon coconut oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1 knob of ginger, scraped and finely grated

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground cardamon seeds (try Spiceways)

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. tomato puree

½ a butternut squash diced into ½-inch cubes

1 large cauliflower florets cut into small 1-inch sized pieces

1 tin chickpeas drained

1 tin coconut milk

1 small bunch coriander

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté over medium low heat for 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Meanwhile toss the butternut squash cubes with another tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a lined baking tray and roast until golden brown. Toss the cauliflower with another tablespoon of coconut oil, salt and pepper and spread out on a lined baking tray and roast until golden brown. When the onions are tender, add the ginger, garlic and chilli cooking and stirring for one minute. Next add the spices and tomato puree and cook for a minute more to release the flavours. Season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk and chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the spices have mellowed and integrated. Taste the sauce and add more salt as desired. Stir in the coriander and then add the butternut squash and cauliflower. Reheat and serve with basmati rice.

Roast Butternut Squash Quesadillas

It is difficult to think up new, quick and easy meals, especially for the kids. I often turn to Mexican with its enticing variety of different wraps – Taco shells or just tortilla chips are also popular with my kids and can be piled high with healthy vegetables to counteract the sour cream and cheese. Then there are either corn or flour tortillas which can be transformed into Burritos, Enchiladas or Quesadillas. The whole concept of all these recipes is pretty much the same. They are really flexible with your choice of vegetable, they are all super quick and easy to make and as long as you pile enough salsa or guacamole on top, usually everyone is happy.

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Roast Butternut Squash Quesadillas

1 small butternut squash, diced into 1 cm squares

1 tsp smoked paprika

4 corn flour tortillas

Olive oil

6 spring onions, finely sliced

½ pack fresh coriander, roughly chopped

125g (4½oz) mozzarella, torn

100g (4oz) cheddar cheese, grated

To serve -salad, Guacamole, salsa or sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180C. Toss the butternut with oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes until beginning to caramelise.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and over half of the butternut squash. Scatter over some of the spring onions, coriander and both cheeses.  Cover with another tortilla and heat for 1 ½ minutes before carefully flipping over and frying for a further 1 ½ minutes. Chop into wedges and serve with salad.

roast-buttermut-squash

Squash, Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Last week, I did a Fig and Almond Tart, and this week I am doing another one, only this time it is savoury. I know some people panic at the word pastry, but I promise you this is a fool proof recipe and you can knock up the pasty in the food processor in a matter of minutes. This combination of pumpkin or squash with red onion and goats cheese is just a winner. Once again, any of a number of different squashes or pumpkins will do to replace the somewhat ubiquitous butternut squash. Feel free to experiment.

squash-red-onion-and-goats-cheese-tart

Squash, Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Serves 6 – Tart tin 10” / 25cm

For the pastry

175g plain flour

80g butter, cold and cubed

Pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

1 egg

For the filling

2 large red onions, peeled and finely slice

Olive oil

Small bunch of thyme, very finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

400g squash or pumpkin, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes

250g hard goats cheese, cubed

½ pt double cream

3 egg yolks

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Put the flour and butter for the pastry, and salt if using, in a food processor. Mix until you have breadcrumbs. Add the egg and just mix enough for the pastry to come together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C. Toss the cubed squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until soft and golden brown. Meanwhile sweat the sliced onions on a low heat with a little olive oil, the thyme and some salt and pepper. Cook down until beginning to caramelise. Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Get a round piece of greaseproof paper and carefully cover the pasty with it. Folding it down over the top edge. Blind bake for about 15 minutes or until the pasty is very light golden brown. Mix the cream with the yolks and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the roasted squash and goats cheese and the onions. Pour into the tart case. Turn the oven down to 170C and cook the tart for about 20-30 minutes, until set and lightly golden brown.

pumpkin-and-squash

Squash Dal

Next up, a really comforting bowl of sunshine. I don’t know where the expression comes from, but this is food which hugs you from the inside. Not the least because not only lentils but surprisingly pumpkin or squash are really very good for you. Packed with vitamins, minerals and all sorts of thing that do you good. But more so, because it tastes so delicious, and that is bound to make you feel happy.

butternut-squash-dal

Squash Dal

2 brown onions

Coconut oil

200 g yellow split peas

800 g butternut squash or any other squash or pumpkin you like such as kobocha or crown prince

1 fresh red chilli

2 clove garlic, peeled and grated

Large knob of ginger, scrapped with a teaspoon and grated

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, freshly ground (available from good Indian shops)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sea salt

Fresh coriander

Peel, finely chop and add the onions to a pan over a medium heat with some coconut oil. Sweat it down for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chill and spices and a teaspoon of salt and cook for a minute more. Add the split peas and cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, halve, peel and chop your squash into 2cm cubes, then add to the pan, top up with water if necessary and cook for a further 25 minutes, or until everything is soft and the liquid is reduced and creamy. Stir regularly during cooking, to ensure it is not sticking. Check seasoning and add salt to taste. Finish with some freshly chopped coriander. Serve with rice or poppadoms.

kabocha