Tag Archives: butternut

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach and Green Chilli Basil Oil

8 Oct

It’s that time of year again. You know it’s definitely Autumn when you see piles of beautiful squashes at the market and I’m tripping over knobbly pumpkins growing out of the fences at the side of the road as I run past the fields with the dog in the morning.

This is the first of many squash and pumpkin recipes to come and I make no apology for that. Their sweet savoury substantial flesh is a welcome addition to any soup or stew and its versatility and ability to slip seamlessly into the cuisine of any country make it an easy choice for this greedy vegetarian,

Some of my personal favourite and most popular recipes feature  the mighty squash. These Butternut Squash & Chickpea Cakes spiced with Cape Malay flavours are easily my most viewed recipe. This Indian Spiced Smashed Pumpkin is comfort food at its best and this Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with chocolate ganache is heaven.

So after Africa and India we now set foot back in Europe with a classic Italian recipe served with a green and spiced up version of an Aglio Oglio sauce made with our homegrown green chillis which we are now harvesting for the second time this year.

So, I don’t know how many of you out there have ever made Pumpking Gnocchi before, but I have.  They were a complete disaster, dense, heavy and unappealing. You couldn’t eat more than two or three before feeling like your stomach was about to explode. I tried, obviously. Not a good idea.

That kind of put me off ever trying again but that was two years ago and my skills and knowledge have improved slightly since then. And The Washer Up wanted me to, so here I am.

The mistake I made last time, I now know from watching countless cookery programmes on TV, was adding too much flour to the mix. It’s easily done because you think the mixture is too wet and that it will fall apart in the water when you cook them. Trust me, go easy on the flour, you’ll thank me for it. And so will your stomach.

*Mine were probably slightly under floured this time as you can see from the raw shot above. They look like very soft gnocchi, but this made them so light and fluffy when they were cooked. You didn’t get that “Oh god I’ve eaten a duvet” feeling afterwards. A trick is to cook one first and try it. If it doesn’t hold, add a little more flour to the mix.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Spinach & Green Chilli Basil Oil

Serves 2-3, vegetarian. Adapted from Cranks Recipe Book

  • 375 g peeled, cubed squash or pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a pinch chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the squash cubes on the tray, drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle with the spices and season with salt & pepper. Toss with you hands so evenly coated and lay out in one layer on the tray. Bake for 15-25 minutes until soft, depending on the size of your cubes.

  • 50-75 g plain flour ( I used white spelt flour)
  • 30 g finely grated parmesan or manchego cheese
  • 1 small spring onion green parts, finely chopped
  •  a handful of basil leaves, finely shredded
  • salt & pepper

Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher then sieve over 50 g flour and mix well. Then add and mix together the parmesan, spring onion and basil and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Using floured hands, shape the mixture into small walnut sized ovalish balls, put on a floured, lined tray, then roll over with a floured fork to make the pattern and store in the fridge until ready to cook.

*See note above about adding a little more flour a bit at a time and doing a test run if unhappy with the consistency. But don’t add too much flour or your cooked gnocchi will be very heavy & dense.

For the sauce:

  • 4 or 5 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of spinach leaves, chopped
  • a handful of basil leaves, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • a cup of the hot pasta water (from cooking the gnocchi)
  • shaved parmesan for garnish
  • pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Heat the oil in a  frying pan large enough to hold the gnocchi over a medium heat and add the sliced garlic and chilli. Cook slowly until the garlic is starting to brown (but don’t let it burn) then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi in lots of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. They will float to the top when they are cooked.  Reserve a teacup full of the hot cooking water, put the garlic oil back on the heat and add about half of the cup of pasta water when hot.Reduce this slightly while the gnocchi cooks and add the chopped spinach and basil to create the sauce. Season with salt & black pepper.

When the gnocchi are cooked and you are ready to serve, heat them up in the same pan as the sauce for a minute or two (you can add the rest of the cup of pasta water if it needs it) and then serve garnished with the shaved parmesan & toasted pine nuts.

Buon Appetito!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes with salsa, raita and red onion maramalade

2 Mar

It’s so good to be back in the kitchen after three weeks of eating out every day. The first recipe inspired by our trip to South Africa is for these beautiful Butternut and Chickpea Cakes that we enjoyed at Ile de Pain in Knysna. You can read my review of this fantastic place here.

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Light, spicy and delicious they are fantastic with the trio of sauces. The spicy tomato and chilli salsa, the cool and creamy cucumber and coriander raita and the sweet red onion maramalade. They all compliment each other so well to create a perfectly well balanced combination of flavours that really dance in your mouth.

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You can use any sweet fruit chutney you have knocking around instead of the marmalade if you don’t have the patience, time or inclination to make you own. But if you do have the time it is a great thing to have in your fridge. Serve it with any burgers or patties, with a grilled goat’s cheese salad or transform a cheese sandwich into a gourmet experience by topping it with a spoonful of red onion marmalade and a handful of rocket or watercress leaves.

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Butternut Squash and Chickpea Cakes Recipe
Serves 4 (12 patties), vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free. Adapted from the Ile de Pain recipe.
Prep Time: 30 mins (plus 1 hr in the fridge if possible) Cooking Time: 10 mins

400 gr butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1-2 cm cubes
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
40 gr (1/3 cup) polenta/cornmeal (or breadcrumbs) plus extra for coating
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg
a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip the squash cubes onto the tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle it over the squash. Toss it all together with your hands so it is evenly coated. Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden and soft when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl then tip the cooked squash into the bowl as well. Mix everything together well with your hands, squishing the squash and chickpeas to create a mushy but still a bit chunky mixture. Squish until the mixture comes together and holds it’s shape.

At this point you can cover the surface of the mixture directly with cling film and refrigerate for an hour or until needed. It will firm up in the fridge and be easier to work with but you can make them straight away if you can’t wait. Meanwhile make the sauces (see recipes below).

Divide and shape the mixture into 12 equal patties (about 60 gr. each). Pour some polenta (or breadcrumbs) onto a large flat plate and lightly dip the patties into the polenta on each side as well as rolling the sides in it too.

Heat about 1/2 cm of olive oil in a frying pan until hot then turn it down to medium and cook the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.

Serve immediately with the trio of sauces and some salad leaves.

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Red Onion Marmalade Recipe
Makes 1 big jar (about 500 ml), vegan, gluten-free.
Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 90 mins

1.25 kg red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
65 gr raw cane sugar (or white sugar)
185 gr brown sugar
280 ml cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Put the onions in a large pan on a low heat, stir occasionally and cook gently for 30-40 minutes until soft.

Add the sugars and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally until thick and jammy (about 45 mins).

Stir in the salt, pepper and thyme and spoon into sterilised jars. Leave to cool then store in the fridge.

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Cucumber, Coriander & Lemon Raita
Serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free. The Washer Up’s recipe.

Prep Time: 5 mins

250 ml Greek yoghurt (2 pots)
about 10 cm cucumber cucumber, deseeded & finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely grated (or to taste)
4 tbsp finely chopped coriander
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and taste. Adjust salt & lemon juice as necessary.

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Tomato & Chilli Salsa
Serves 4, vegan, gluten-free. The Washer Up’s recipe.

Prep time: 5 mins
2 small tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2-1 chilli, finely chopped (depending on you and the chilli)
2 spring onions, green & white parts, finely chopped
2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt & black pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl and taste. Adjust seasoning as required.

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I hope you enjoy these as much as we did, they’re really good, thanks Ile de Pain!

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Jerk Roasted Squash with Fruit and Nut Rice Pilaf

21 Sep

I made some of this Jerk marinade/sauce to use up some of the hundreds of scotch bonnet chilli peppers I have at the moment. The plant/bush has actually flowered again and is now producing even more.

I also made another batch of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce …..

The first thing I made with the jerk marinade was Jerk Baked Feta. I don’t have any pictures of it because I made it at night and we ate it all, sorry (not sorry really), but I will definitely do it again, it tasted amazing.

All you do is put the 200 gr block of Feta onto a large rectangle of foil, spoon over 3 or 4 tbsp of the jerk marinade and coat it well. Wrap up the feta in a foil packet and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 180 C. Unwrap your fragrant cheesy parcel and dive in with some  good pita or roti bread.

A customer at the restaurant, Norman, gave us a bag full of these beautiful squash. In my new guise as “Jerk Addict” I knew I was going to give it the jerk treatment. The sweet butteryness of the squash is enhanced by the spicy, zingy jerk marinade, they are made for each other, seriously.

I served this with a Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf I found in my new Caribbean cookbook. Spice It Up by Levi Roots and drizzled it with some of my Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce mixed with some Greek yoghurt to tone it down slightly.

Jerk Roasted Squash with Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

For the jerk roasted squash:

  • 1 bunch/handful fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, then crushed
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, then crushed
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tsp allspice berries, then crushed
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 6 scotch bonnet chillies (mine are small) use 4 large deseeded
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 limes, zest of 1, juice of 2
  • 140 ml olive oil
  • 1 medium squash

Put all the ingredients for the jerk marinade (not the squash) in a processor and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a sterilised jar and seal. Refrigerate until needed. This makes about 200 ml.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Wash the squash and slice off  a little of the top and bottom. Leave the skin on. Slice the narrow end into 1-2cm discs (see picture above). Then cut the fatter end in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds and slice each half into 1-2 cm half moons.

Line 2 baking sheets with foil and place the squash circles on one tray and the half moons on the other. Drop about a teaspoon of the jerk marinade onto each disc and swirl it around to coat the top. Turn the disc over and do the same on the other side. Do the same with the half moons. Drizzle both sets of squash with a little olive oil and put both trays in the oven. The discs on the top shelf and the half moons on the middle shelf.

Cook for 30 -40 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices. The half moons will be ready before the discs. You want them to be really soft when you test them with a knife.

Serve hot or at room temperature with the Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf.

For the Fruit & Nut Rice Pilaf:

Serves 3, vegan, gluten free. Adapted from Spice it Up by Levi Roots

  • 150 gr long grain rice, I used a wild rice mix
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 50 gr sultanas (or dried tropical fruit mix)
  • 25 gr almonds, roughly chopped
  • 350 ml veg stock
  • the juice of 1/2 lime or orange
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & black pepper

Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear and leave to drain. Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened then add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes.

Next add the rice to the pan, stir to coat in the oil and spices then add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Season well with salt & black pepper and boil hard for a minute. Then reduce the heat to very low and cover with a lid. Leave to cook for about 15 minutes until tender, try not to stir but make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Check seasoning and serve immediately garnished with some fresh thyme.

Serve the dish drizzled with some Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce if you like it fiery. Or mix it with some greek yoghurt for a more manageable heat.

This jerk marinade is amazing. You can use it for chicken, fish or pork but try the foil baked feta and squash too. You may surprise even the most stubborn carnivores with this recipe.

I also used it as a salad dressing with some more olive oil and lime juice. I used some of the leftover roasted squash, chopped up with some chickpeas and mixed it into a salad with the jerk dressing and a splash of hot pepper sauce. Really good lunch dish..

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

 The Eucalyptus trees are starting to shed their bark, covering the ground with cinnamon- like curls….

It reminds me of a programme I saw about the cinnamon producers in Sri Lanka. Strips of  bark from the cinnamon tree are layered together, one curl inside another and then it is expertly rolled into the cinnamon sticks we buy and use for cooking. Amazing to watch….

It is one of the few signs of autumn we get here, and the first nod towards the changing season…..

Hello Autumn!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Miso Risotto

2 Jun

It was my birthday on Tuesday (I’m 38!). I had a bit of a boring morning, went to the hospital for a chest X-Ray (just a follow-up thing) then went food shopping in Mercadona (not exciting). It got better from then on though, I bought a new yellow dress (I’ve got a thing about yellow at the  moment) and then “The Washer Up” left work early so we could go out for a late dinner at our favourite Indian Restaurant (wearing the new yellow dress).

The Mumtaz Mahal in Coin is the restaurant that we love. We love the food (always delicious) and the staff (so polite & friendly) and we can take the dog and sit outside.  The food is stunning, none of that “one sauce fits all” type of Indian restaurant. Every dish has a unique flavour and is cooked to perfection.

We have been guilty, in the past, of always ordering the same things because they are so gorgeous (tarka dal, chana masala, vegetable balti, bombay aloo) but recently have decided to branch out and order something different every time we go.

My latest favourite is the Paneer Tikka. Paneer is an Indian cheese made in a similar way to ricotta which is then pressed to firm it up. The paneer is marinaded in the tikka sauce, threaded onto skewers with peppers & onions and then cooked until slightly charred. It comes out sizzling on a cast iron and wooden plate which all adds to the drama, I love it..

Please excuse the dodgy photo, I still haven’t worked out how to take pictures at night with this camera but you get the idea. And, before you say it, yes I did eat cheese, it was my birthday treat, I had a day off the detox (yay)!

They also do the most amazing bread called an Onion Kulcha which is a mixture between naan and pizza topped with onions, chilli and coriander. We have that every time without fail which means we don’t try any of the other breads but I just can’t not order it, it’s that good.

Oh and we always order far too much which means we get to take the leftovers away and eat (and photograph) them the next day….

Back to the recipe. I know that squash isn’t exactly seasonal here at the moment but I saw the bright orange in a sea of green and had to buy it. A lot of my readers are in the southern hemisphere (including my dad in South Africa) where it is  Autumn/Winter so I’ll use that as my excuse.

I usually make a squash and feta cheese risotto. I like the combination of the sweet squash and the sour salty feta. Making a vegan version was going to be challenge. I needed to get that same contrast in flavours without the cheese. Inspiration came from A Meandering Mango in Australia. She made a roasted squash soup with miso as she didn’t have any stock. Miso has that umami savouriness that I needed to off set the sweet squash.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Miso Risotto

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 700 gr) including seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 200 gr brown wholegrain rice (or risotto rice)
  • a big splash of beer
  • 1- 1 1/2 litres veg stock
  • 1 heaped tbsp miso paste
  • fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • lime wedges to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Scrape the seeds out of the squash with a spoon, wash all the orange stringy bits off and dry the seeds. Place them in one layer on a piece of foil drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in the preheated oven for 4 -5 minutes until golden. Keep an eye on them they burn quickly!

Remove the seeds from the oven and turn it up to 210 C. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes (I didn’t peel it), put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and season with the salt & black pepper. Toss everything together with your hands so evenly coated and lay the squash out in one layer. Roast in the 210 C oven for 35 -40 minutes until well cooked, softened and slightly browned.

After about 20 minutes you can start making the risotto. Put the veg stock and miso paste in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the miso while you make the risotto. In a large pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onion, celery and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the rice and stir to coat in the onions. When the rice is starting to turn translucent at the edges, add a good splosh of beer and cook until all the liquid disappears. Add a ladleful of the hot miso stock into the rice and stir or swirl the pan until all the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock, stir or swirl until absorbed and continue like this until the rice is nearly cooked. About 20 minutes with risotto rice, wholegrain rice takes about 25 minutes and more stock.

Stir in most or all of the roasted squash (depending on the size of your squash) and cook for 5 more minutes until it has melted into the risotto. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary.

Serve topped with the roasted squash seeds, a few fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lime to spritz over if you like.

This has a slightly unusual flavour for a risotto but it is really delicious. In fact I’ve come up with the perfect name for it, it’s a misotto. You should give it a go, it’s surprisingly good, whatever the season…

Things that made me smile today..

Wild Orchids…

So beautiful…

A definite “Moment of Gratitude”…

Enjoy!!

Ruby Beetroot and Pear Chutney with Squash and Chickpea Curry and Flatbreads

18 Feb

It’s all about the Beetroot Chutney for me. I don’t even like beetroot. Well I don’t like the beetroot you get in jars, all pickled and vinegary. Leaching it’s dark pink juice everywhere and contaminating whatever else is on the plate. 

I am always willing to be proven wrong and to make a complete about-face and this is one of those occasions. I love this beetroot chutney. I love the colour, it’s ruby-red shining jewels flecked with intriguing dark spices is a beautiful thing. I love the flavour, it’s a sweet, spicy, dark and mysterious blend that enhances any curry (or cheese sandwich for that matter)!

The other thing I love about it is that it is really easy to make. I just bought some cooked beetroot (it comes vacuum packed). You can roast or boil it and peel it yourself  if you like.

Ruby Beetroot & Pear Chutney Recipe

makes about 1 jar, vegan

  • 2 cooked beetroot, diced
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored & diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp punch pooran*
  • 4 tbsp white or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp white sugar

* Punch Pooran is a whole spice mix available from Indian supermarkets that gives a balanced flavour to any Indian dishes. Mine is from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add in the whole spices. When they start to splutter add in the onion and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until it has thickened and looks like chutney. Pour into a hot sterilised jar (just put it through the dishwasher), seal immediately, leave to cool then refrigerate.

Serve with mini poppadoms as an informal starter  to an Indian meal alongside a coriander & lemon yoghurt raita. Or pile it on a sharp cheese like a Lancashire Crumbly( thanks Joan & Terry) in a sandwich, as part of a cheese board or as a new jacket potato filling: Lancashire Crumbly & Beetroot & Pear Chutney. It’s the way forward. You could also serve it with your favourite curry dish which is what I did on Tuesday night when we had friends for dinner.

Now Rhian, who doesn’t cook, has promised to make this, because she enjoyed it so much and has been inspired. Okay Rhian, here’s the recipe, no excuses now………..

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Curry Recipe

serves 6 – 8, vegan

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
  •  1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 or 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 1 400 gr jar/tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 500 ml – 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, chopped. Plus leaves for garnish
  • * Punch Pooran is a whole spice mix available from Indian supermarkets that gives a balanced flavour to any Indian dishes. Mine is from East End Foods.

    In a big deep pot, heat some oil over a medium heat. Throw in the whole spices, when they start popping, add in the onion with a big pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Add in the garlic, ginger, chilli and the  rest of the powdered spices and cook for another minute. Tumble in the squash chunks and stir well to coat with the spices. 

    Pour in the tinned tomatoes, rinsed chickpeas and the tomato puree. Stir again so everything is well-distributed. Season well with salt & black pepper then add in 5ooml veg stock. Stir and bring to the boil. When boiling reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 – 30 minutes depending on your squash.
    When the squash is cooked/tender take the lid off and cook for another 5 minutes to reduce/thicken the sauce if necessary. If it is dry add some more veg stock until you get the consistency you are looking for. If it is too liquidy you can take out a ladleful of the curry, blend it to a puree and add it back into the pot.
    Just before serving squeeze over the lemon juice and stir in the chopped coriander. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice to taste.

I served this with my Leek & Fennel Seed Flatbreads, some mixed wild rice and the beetroot & pear chutney. I used strong bread flour to make the flatbreads this time and had a much better result…..

Good luck & enjoy!!!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Crumble with caramelised onions, cream cheese and oaty cheddar topping

9 Feb

Bit of a long title, I know, but I couldn’t leave anything out. All the ingredients are really important and it got you interested didn’t it? Want to see inside? …….OK…..

You need to know how delicious this is. The butternut squash is roasted with rosemary & a little chilli to bring out the sweetness and intensify the flavour. The chickpeas give a textural surprise layer and contrast to the squash. The onions are caramelised with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. The cream cheese layer gives a creamy sour edge on top of the sweet onions. And the topping, well, it’s a crunchy, cheddar, oatmeal, breadcrumb and olive oil crumble seasoned with a touch of rosemary to echo the squash.

 This is a hybrid of two recipes I had been thinking about making over the last week. The first was an Aubergine Crumble from Flavour by Vicky Bhogal and the second was a recipe for Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Cassoulet I found on Cooking Pretty. She bakes the cassoulet with a gruyere topping which really appealed to me so I just put the cheesey crumble mix on top of the cassoulet and changed a few other ingredients. I made four individual crumbles but you could easily make one big one to serve at the table. The result is pure comfort food, warming and delicious…

Butternut Squash & Caramelised Onion Crumble

serves 3 -4 vegetarian

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 750 gr) washed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • about 2oo gr (1/2 tin/jar) cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp thyme/rosemary, finely chopped
  • about 100 gr cream cheese
  • 50 gr rolled oats
  • 50 gr breadcrumbs
  • about 100 gr grated cheddar (or other cheese)
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 210 C. Put the squash chunks on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary & chilli flakes and roast for 35 – 40 minutes or until your squash is soft.

Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions, thyme/rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until caramelised. Make the crumble topping by mixing the oats, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, rosemary salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over about 3 tbsp olive oil and mix with a fork or your fingers until it resembles a crumble.

When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and turn the oven down to 190 C. Tip the squash into a large bowl and blitz with stick blender until it is a chunky puree.  Taste and season if necessary. Pour this into the base of your dish/dishes and spread it out evenly. Season your rinsed chickpeas and scatter them over the squash. Tip the caramelised onions over the chickpeas and spread them about evenly. Spread a thin-ish layer of cream cheese over the onions (it doesn’t matter if it’s messy) and then top with the crumble mixture. Pat it gently and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 -25 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some green beans & new potatoes as a more substantial meal. You could also put some pumpkin/squash seeds in the topping if you hadn’t burnt them instead of toasting them like I did! It was still delicious though, as you can see……

This is a really cute dinner party dish as well. You can prepare them beforehand and just heat them up when your guests arrive. Simple…..

Thai Squash Wonton Soup and Spring Rolls with green curry noodles

29 Jan

I had to make something with my first homemade veg stock, something worthy that would appreciate it’s clean, delicate flavour. Wonton soup is that dish.

The wontons are generally filled with seasoned pork and prawns. I decided to go for the Butternut squash that was in danger of going soft in my fridge. I roasted it and mixed the scooped out flesh with some Thai flavours, lemongrass, ginger & chilli and used that as my filling. Roasting half a squash (as I did) makes a lot of the filling  so I used it to make some spring rolls too which I served with some Thai Green Curry Rice Noodles. You could also use the rest of the squash mix to make a delicious soup, just add some coconut milk and veg stock and blend..

I would definitely recommend making these on the day you want to cook them. The spring rolls especially did not keep very well in the fridge overnight as the filling is quite moist and it soaks into the wrappers. You can make the filling the day before but do your wontons and spring rolls on the same day you want to eat them for the best results.

Thai Squash Wontons and Spring Rolls

 vegetarian (makes lots of the filling)

  • 1/2 butternut squash (keep seeds if you want to roast them too)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • a large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated/minced ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bashed, ends removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli (I only used 1/2 because my chillis are really hot you can use more)
  • a handful of coriander, stalks chopped separately
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • some breadcrumbs if the mixture is very wet (panko are best)
  • wonton wrappers (defrosted at room temp. Keep covered or they will dry out)
  • spring roll wrappers(defrosted at room temp. Keep covered or they will dry out)
  • 1 egg, beaten for brushing

Preheat the oven to 200C, cut the squash half in half, put on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 30 – 45 minutes depending on your squash. It needs to be tender. You can roast the seeds at the same time, just wash and dry them, spread them out on a sheet of  foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on them they should brown slightly not burn). Leave the squash until cool enough to handle and scoop out the soft flesh into a large bowl.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add in the onions, celery, coriander stalks, lemongrass and chilli with a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add in the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Tip this into the squash with the chopped coriander leaves and mix everything together well. Add in the cornflour and breadcrumbs if it seems very wet.  Season with salt & pepper and taste.

When they have come to room temperature place one wonton wrapper on a board or work surface so it is a diamond shape. With your finger moisten the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg. Take a small teaspoon of the filling and put it in the top triangle of the diamond away from the edges.

Fold the bottom half over the filling and seal the edges with your fingers. Push down around the filling to get rid of any air. Make sure the edges are sealed and there is no filling escaping. Moisten the two bottom corners with egg and close them together and seal to create the dumpling shape. Sit it up on it’s base.

Continue until you have made enough wontons. I think three per person in a little bowl of soup is enough for a starter. You could also serve more of them as  a main course (like a ravioli or tortellini dish) with some of the Thai Green Curry sauce (see recipe below).

With the spring roll wrappers, lay it out on a board in a diamond shape again. Brush all the edges with beaten egg. Place teaspoons of the filling in a sausage shape about a quarter of the way up, not touching the edges, as in the photo above.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and tightly roll away from you until you reach the last quarter. Then brush the two ends with beaten egg and fold them in tightly.

Then continue rolling it up until you get something like this…

Store the wontons and spring rolls in the fridge separated with baking paper so they don’t stick together but use them on the same day, they don’t keep well overnight. To cook the spring rolls deep fry in hot vegetable oil in a wok, frying pan or deep fat fryer until golden on both sides (about 2 – 3 minutes on each side). Drain on kitchen paper and serve with your favourite dipping sauce….

Spring Roll Dipping Sauce

  • soy sauce
  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • sesame oil
  • oyster sauce
  • minced ginger
  • lime juice
  • brown sugar/palm sugar
  • chopped spring onions or garlic shoots
  • chopped red chilli
  • fresh coriander
  •  

    These are the ingredients for my dipping sauce. I have no idea of amounts just start with the soy and keep adding and tasting until you get what you like…

Wonton Soup Recipe

serves 4, vegetarian

  • 5 small bowls of vegetable stock (use the bowl you are serving in to get the correct amount plus 1 extra for luck)
  • about 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • about 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  •  1/2 red chilli, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
  • some shredded cabbage, a handful
  • 1 garlic chive or spring onion, finely sliced, plus extra for garnish
  •  1 tbsp chopped coriander plus leaves to garnish
  • roasted pumpkin seeds (see above) optional
  • 12 wontons (3 per person) see recipe above

Heat the veg stock to just under boiling and add in the miso, spring onions/garlic shoots, chilli, cabbage, ginger, rice wine and soy sauce. Stir until the miso dissolves and simmer for a few minutes to soften the cabbage. Add a few drops of sesame oil and drop in the wontons. They will sink, give them a stir occasionally and cook in gently bubbling water for 3 or 4 minutes. They should float to the top then give them another minute or so. Scoop out the wontons with a slotted spoon and place them in the serving bowls.

Stir in the chopped coriander and ladle the hot soup over the wontons. Garnish with extra spring onion, pumpkin seeds, sliced chilli and coriander leaves and serve immediately.

 This is such a brilliant starter to an Asian meal. It’s light, aromatic , healthy and full of flavour. The Washer Up said it was the best soup I’ve ever made and I think I agree. It’s one of those dishes you never want to end.  You could definitely serve it as a main course in a bigger bowl with more of everything but maybe it’s better to leave people wanting more, I don’t know, you decide…….

Alongside the Spring  Rolls and dipping sauce I served some Thai Green Curry Rice Noodles. I got the recipe for the Thai Green Curry Paste from Tes at Home. Tes is Thai and lives in India and I think the recipe comes from her mother. It was really very good, well-balanced and flavourful even though I couldn’t get any Thai basil and I substituted ginger for galangal…

Thai Green Curry Noodles

serves 4, vegan

  • about 400 gr fat rice noodles (I used XL)
  • 3 heaped tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tin 400 ml coconut milk
  • soy sauce and  brown sugar/palm sugar to taste
  • fresh coriander chopped
  • chopped spring onions/garlic shoots
  • coriander leaves/spring onions/sliced chilli for garnish
  • veg stock if necessary

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain, rinse under cold water and set aside. Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Cook the curry paste and spring onions for 2 or 3 minutes until the spices are aromatic then add in the coconut milk. Stir everything and cook to thicken the sauce slightly. Taste and add some soy sauce & sugar if you think it needs it. Place the noodles in the sauce a handful at a time, string to coat the noodles then add the chopped coriander. When the noodles have warmed through and are coated in the sauce tip into your warmed serving dishes (If it seems a bit dry you can add a bit of veg stock).

Garnish with coriander leaves, spring onion and fresh chilli……………

And serve with the Spring Rolls and dipping sauce……… delicious!!!

This recipe is featured in January’s YBR round up hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie. To see a fantastic selection of delicious recipes & beautiful photos click on the Your Best Recipe Badge above and have a look around…

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