For my sister’s wedding back home recently, my dad and I were asked to do a lot of the food ‘catering’ for their casual reception. The theme of the food we made? Pretty much an Ottolenghi feast! Yep I pretty much have my whole family hooked on Ottolenghi’s food and his recipes get discussed and trailed all the time. This Roasted Butternut Squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses was one of my faves we made that day. Soft, sweet squash scattered with crunchy toasted seeds and nuts, accompanied by a smokey aubergine sauce is pure genius. The aubergine is charred until wrinkly and often bursting – the smoky flesh then scraped and combined with natural yoghurt, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and that sticky, fragrant molasses. Great sweet and sour flavours and contrasting textures
“Butternut squash has softer skin than other pumpkins and is therefore easier to prepare. For us it is almost a staple. Butternut’s mild sweetness and firm flesh make it suitable to go alongside most main courses, but also to serve on its own as a vegetarian centrepiece.” – Yotam Ottolenghi
Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine and Pomegranate Molasses
1 large butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp green, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
10g sliced almonds
basil leaves, to serve
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 medium aubergine
150g Greek yoghurt (I used plain 0% Fage Greek yoghurt)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
Preheat oven to 220C. Trim the top and the bottom of the pumpkin and cut in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds and cut each half into 3cm wedges. Cut each wedge into pieces about 5-7cm long. Place the pumpkin wedges on a roasting tray lined with baking paper, brush each wedge with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until they feel just tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180C. Mix together all seeds and almonds and scatter on a roasting tray. Toast for 5-8 minutes or until slightly brown and fragrant (be careful not to burn them!)
For the sauce, either put the aubergine directly onto a gas hob flame, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the skin is dried and cracked and the aubergine smells smoky. You can also do this by putting the aubergine under a hot grill. The aubergine often bursts I find, but this is fine. Just be careful not to lose that flesh! It needs to be very soft inside. Make a long cut through the aubergine and scoop the flesh from the aubergine and discard the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for ten minutes, then chop roughly and combine with the yoghurt, oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and season with extra salt and pepper if you wish.
Place the butternut on a serving plate, sprinkle with the seed mix, fresh basil leaves and serve with the aubergine sauce.
Recipe from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook (link)
This recipe is one of Ottolenghi’s most simple ones and I urge you to try it! Whether you make this to enjoy at home (as a delicious main vegetarian meal or as a side dish) or bring it to a bbq/dinner party, this recipe works beautifully because the sauce can be made ahead of time and the squash can be served at room temperature.
The dip is also a real winner because it is so delicious that you will want to serve it with everything, from pita bread to crudités. Promise me you’ll try it?