Roasted squash recipes abound, but aside from making excellent soup or filling for ravioli, you could use it as a vessel for grains and complementary flavours.
Here, butternut squash is roasted with a smear of olive oil, salt and chilli to give a sweet, caramelised heat. Then the flesh scooped out from the centre and replaced with some simple rice and lentils cooked with some of the gentler Indian spices. Cumin, Turmeric, Cinnamon and a touch of Garam Masala. We garnished with the crispy sprouted lentils. Keep the scooped flesh for mashed butternut – perfect with salmon for fishcakes (add some lime, lemongrass and chilli). We added in a simple homemade coriander and pistachio nut pesto with a bit of green chilli and olive oil. It is a healthy vegan friendly meal that we made for a photographer friend.
Maja Kostka is a talented young photographer who came to do some food styling and photography with us. The children were enchanted by her and of course by her extensive kit. She came with lights and reflectors that helped create beautiful, warm pictures such as those in these blog post, despite the gloomy winter’s day when we met to cook and photograph.
We seem to have our very own budding photographer too – our old point and shoot has been commandeered by our daughter, as well as our iPhones for self portraits.
Though a three and half year old has a slightly different perspective -less focused on food, more on her own little life. We love looking at her pictures.
Back to the food however. Simple seasonal ingredients and store cupboard staples such as moong lentils make this a fairly thrifty meal. The only slightly extravagent part is the use of pistachio nut in the pesto but you could use pine nuts instead. After sprouting the whole moong lentils we roasted them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt for an interesting crunchy topping.
- 50g moong lentils
- Olive oil
- Pinch of sea (kosher)salt
- 2 Butternut squash
- Half teaspon ground cumin
- Quarter teaspoon turmeric
- Half teaspoon garam masala
- 1 dried curry leaf
- Quarter to half teaspoon chilli powder
- 200g long grain rice (we used basmati)
- 400ml water
- 2 handfuls(cups) of coriander leaf (cilantro)
- Juice of half a lime
- Half a garlic clove
- Quarter teaspoon seasalt (kosher salt)
- Half a green chilli chopped and deseeded
- 50g Pistachio nuts
- 120ml olive oil
- Soak the moong lentils in a bowl of water overnight using enough water to cover the lentils by a couple of centimetres(an inch or so)
- Next day, put the moong lentils into a damp muslin or clean teatowel.
- Wrap it up and place in a bowl.
- Keep for 48 hours and the beans will sprout. You will need to water the muslin to keep it damp.
- Preheat oven to 200DegC
- Remove the beans, place in a roasting dish, and massage in a teaspoon of olive oil, scatter with sea (kosher) salt
- Roast for about 20 minutes - until the lentils and sprouts are starting to brown and have a little crunch but not getting too hard.
- Reserve the lentils for the topping.
- Chop the butternut squash in half and remove the seeds.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for 30 minutes until the flesh is softened enough to scoop out.
- Whilst the squash is roasting, prepare the rice. In a medium to large pot add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and gently heat the cumin, turmeric, garam masala, curry leaf and chilli powder to release their flavoursome oils but take care not to let this burn.
- Add the rice and stir the spices through the grains.
- Add 420ml of boiling water and allow the rice to simmer partially uncovered for the cooking time indicated on the pack, until it is fully cooked.
- When the squash is nearly fully roasted, remove from the oven and carefully scoop out the flesh in the centre leaving a 2cm (1inch) thinckness of flesh in the squash to hold the rice. Reserve the scooped out flesh to use as a mash, in soups or fishcakes or to fill ravioli.
- Pile in the cooked rice and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.
- Put the coriander (cilantro), pistachios, lime juice, garlic, sea (kosher) salt and green chilli into a blender with the olive oil and process it till it is coarsely chopped but still has some nuntty texture.
- To serve, scatter the rice with some of the roasted moong sprouts and allow everyone to serve themselves the pesto as a final topping.
Thank you to Maja for coming to work with us in our kitchen. You can contact her via her website. We will be featuring another recipe she photographed with us soon.
And to cooking with herbs, a monthly recipe linkup held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage