One from Ottolenghi, the other from Jamie Oliver…This year we planted a seed from a butternut squash that we particularly liked last winter and saved. Up until recently we’ve been enjoying the blossoms day after day but finally the few fruits the plant gives have ripened into extraordinary sweet and tasty butternut squashes.
I had not long ago watched some of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals videos and in amongst others a sweet potato, potato, feta and coriander salad caught my attention. When I picked our first squash and decided what to use it for…Why not that salad substituiting the sweet potato for the butternut squash? I tried it and we loved it!!Super quick to make, incredibly tasty, a burst of flavours, sooo comforting! I still haven’t tried it with sweet potato, but I doubt it can be any better than this!
The other simple dish is from Ottolenghi’s book Plenty, I wasn’t too convinced if I would like it when I tried it, as I’m not a big fan of toasted cured cheese (I love parmesan, but have never really appreciated those toasted parmesan lollies which every “fashion” restaurant seem to offer as an appetiser. But combined with the lemon rind and garlic flavours, the results are super crusty butternut squash slices on one side and a creamy baked texture on the other. I acompanied it with a quick version of a lemongrass and ginger crème fraîche from another recipe, which I find is a must to go on the side (and everyone from my family who’s tried it agrees!).
Butternut squash, potato, feta and coriander warm salad
250g piece of butternut squash
200g of potatoes
1/2 a lemon
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
about 70g of greek feta cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
I suggest you watch the Jamie Oliver video in which he makes the sweet potato original recipe. Though you can find it in youtube, I suggest you go to this page (as the blog has all his 30 minute meals videos organised, in case you are interested) and watch the second video starting from minute 8 to get to that recipe. I love how he does everything so rustic and with that laid-off style!
Anyhow, even if you dont, wash your potatoes and butternut squash skin well, as all goes in! Cut the potatoes in half or 3, depending how big they are and similarly the squash piece in 3 or 4.
Place all in a microwave-proof bowl with the half lemon right on top. Cover 2 or 3 times with cling film (if you have a flimsy cling film that doesn’t stick very well, I suggest you turn it around the bowl rather than cutting two pieces to cover the top)
Microwave at full power (mine goes to 1000 watt) for about 12-14 minutes..You’ll see it looks like it has made a vacuum. Break it open.
While it’s cooking, chop up 1 chilli finely (if you prefer, you can skip it) the bunch of coriander roughly and cumble the feta on top.
Mash the cooked potatoes and squash with a fork a bit and dump over the feta and coriander (or dump and chop together). Season with some salt (maldon is nicer) and pepper and a drizzle of oil and mix it all together as you chop a bit more with the knife. If you have a nice board, like Jamie, serve right as it is, topping with a bit more fresh crumbled feta, coriander leaves and an extra drizzle of oil. If not, pour in the dish or platter of taste and do that.
Ottolenghi’s crusty butternut squash with lemon grass & ginger crème fraîche
about 500g of butternut squash
olive oil, to drizzle over the squash
40g grated cured cheese*
20g breadcrumbs **
2 garlic cloves, grated
rind of 1 large lemon or more to taste, grated
pinch of salt and freshly fround pepper
optional: some fresh herb of choice finely chopped, I used lemon thyme (he uses a lot of parsley and thyme
*The original recipe suggests 50g of parmesan. I like to mix it with a cured cheese with milder flavour. My favourite test yet was with a smoked cheese similar to idiazabal.So, to me parmesan is not essential.
**if you can get hold of Panko, do so for a crunchier texture!if not it’s better to coarsely grate you own dried bread rather than getting the fine powder crumbs usually available.
For the sauce:
125g of crème fraîche (or sour cream)
1 lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed & finely chopped
1-2 tsp of finely grated fresh ginger
pinch of salt
drizzle of lemon or lime juice
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, then cut in about 1cm thick slices (just try not to make it too thin as you loose the creamy texture of the bottom part to contrast with the crunchy top)
Arrange over some parchment in an oven tray. Meanwhile preheat the oven to around 190ºC.
Mix all the other ingredients (I used a microplane fine grater for all; cheese, garlic and lemon rind) except the olive oil in a bowl. Drizzle some lemon juice over the butternut squash slices and distribute the crust ingredients amongst them.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and tender inside. If you find it is toasting too soon, you can lower the heat to 180ºC.
For the sauce, simply mix up all ingredients, add lemon or lime juice to taste.
Hope you enjoy them both!