the recipe sharer

#butternut squash

Weekend soup (using whatever you have left in the fridge)

When the weeks are cooler, I tend to open the fridge doors and haul out any vegetables that could go into a soup. You will be surprised what wonderful concoctions you can come up with and how much soup you can make from very little.
Don’t overthink it and definitely don’t measure anything as soups are one of the most forgiving and inventive things you can make.

This week my ingredients are;

4 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 large turnip, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 head of celery, including leaves, peeled of stringy stuff
1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed, tossed in olive oil and seasoning and roasted at 350 degrees for 45 mins
1 whole cauliflower, broken into florets
about 12 asparagus spears, snapping off the tough ends and chopping into 1 inch lengths
5 zucchini, halved then quartered lengthways and chopped across into 3/4″ pieces
3 heads of broccoli including stems chopped
1 whole bunch fresh parsley stalks and all
french green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1″ lengths

4 to 6 (32 oz) containers chicken broth. (You can use vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian, but I think chicken broth adds far more flavor.

I put about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 3 tbsp butter into the bottom of a very large soup stock pot, then in goes the onions, turnip, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and everything else, stirring as I go so everything mixes together.
After about 15 minutes of this, add the broth, stirring and it should cover the vegetables with an extra level of about 1 to 2 inches, so the soup isn’t too thick.

Let the soup bubble away, stirring it every 20 mins, for about 45 mins at least, until all the vegetables are soft. Taste the juice and season with salt and pepper, but not too much as this is something you can do after you have pureed it.
When it’s cooked, take it off the heat and leave aside for about 1 hour until it’s not so hot. Puree the soup in a blender and at this stage you can add a little cream for a more velvety texture, some soft goat cheese for a really lovely flavor and even some grated mature cheddar or Parmesan cheese, returning it back to a large saucepan after it’s pureed.
Put back on the heat, taste and season until it tastes perfect.

Just remember, play with it, even adding some chopped pancetta or bacon when you fry the vegetables and know that this huge pot of flavorful goodness will feed you for quite a long time and cost nothing more!

The "haul" for the rest of the week

The “haul” for the rest of the week

* Some other great vegetables to use are;
spinach
potatoes
sweet potatoes
tomatoes
Jerusalem artichokes (the knobbly ones)
celeriac (celery root)
fennel
kale
frozen peas, thawed
Swiss chard

Remember, whatever vegetables you put in the soup, there are certain ones that will naturally thicken the soup, like
asparagus
butternut squash
potatoes
sweet potatoes
parsnips
carrots
Cannellini or other tinned beans
cauliflower

Roasted butternut squash with pistachio pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

There are limitless ways of having your roasted butternut squash, but this has to be one of the prettiest and tastiest out there. Wonderful Persian inspiration behind this dish!

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 11.59.47 AM

For the butternut squash

1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways (skin-on) and seeds removed (You could try other squashes too)
4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz feta
4 oz pomegranate seeds

For the pesto

4 oz shelled pistachio nuts
3 oz parmesan cheese, chopped into rough chunks
4 fl oz oz good olive oil
1 small bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 small bunch fresh dill
1 hot red chilli or 1 tbsp chilli oil (optional)
1 lemon, juice only
2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

For the butternut squash, rub each wedge of butternut squash with oil and season generously with sea salt and black pepper. Place on the lined baking tray.

Roast the squash for about 45-50 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly (you want to blacken the edges a little to give them a nice chewy texture). Check the squash is cooked by inserting a knife – if it slides in easily the squash is cooked.

For the pesto, add the pistachios and cheese to a food processor. Pulse to break them into small pieces and add enough olive oil to slacken the mixture to your desired consistency (you may not need all the oil). Add all the herbs, the chilli (if using) and lemon juice. Pulse again to combine the herbs and add a little more olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and give the mixture one last pulse. Taste the pesto, to make sure it has enough salt and acidity, and allow it to rest in the fridge until you need it.

To serve, serve the butternut squash on plates, drizzled generously with the pesto. Crumble your feta over the top and scatter some pomegranate seeds over to finish.

 

 

Baked butternut squash, ricotta and spinach

Although I’m not a vegetarian, I am always attracted to non-meat dishes and this one, given it’s December and has me making soups, stews and baked dishes, this really attracted me. It’s from the wonderful British website and food magazine, Delicious.

Baked butternut squash, ricotta and spinach

Serves 4

1 large butternut squash, halved lengthways (about 2.5 – 3lbs in weight)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 tsp crushed red chillies
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz baby spinach
1lb ricotta cheese
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese,(not the pre-grated stuff) plus extra to serve
1 large egg, plus an extra egg yolk
A bunch of fresh sage leaves

Heat the oven to 400F
Scoop out and discard the seeds from the squash. Sit the squash halves cut-side up in a roasting tin. Score flesh in a crosshatch pattern with a knife and season.
Scatter over the caraway seeds, chillies and whole garlic cloves, then drizzle with the olive oil.
Cover with foil and roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until soft.

When cooked, set the garlic cloves aside, then scoop all but 2 tbsp of the squash flesh into a bowl, keeping it in pieces. Gently stir through the spinach and season.Leave to cool.

Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a large bowl and mash into the remaining 2 tbsp squash using a fork. Add the ricotta, Parmesan and some seasoning. Add the whole egg and extra egg yolk, stir then gently stir through the spinach and squash mixture.

Spoon into 4 x 6 oz individual gratin dishes.Top with Parmesan, scatter with extra caraway seeds and the sage leaves, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately

Butternut squash, apple, spinach and cheese bread pudding

It’s that time of year when all the winter squash comes out and this is one terrific recipe.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 4.52.55 PM

Serves 8

1 good sized butternut squash (about 2lbs) halved lengthways, seeded and peeled
2 apples, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 leek stem, diced
1 cup shallots, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz fresh baby spinach
Salt
A good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
A good pinch of cinnamon
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 cups half and half
7 large eggs, beaten
1 cup (at least) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 baguettes, crusts trimmed and bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 7 cups)

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Put the leeks, butternut squash, apples and shallots into a large bowl. Pour in the melted butter, olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, maple syrup, salt and pepper and toss until coated really well.
Tip out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 25 to 30 mins until they are slightly caramelized and softened.

In another bowl whisk the half and half with the eggs, 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan, 1/2 cup of grated cheddar and some salt and pepper. Add the bread cubes and toss gently until well coated.

Spoon half of the mixture into a well buttered baking dish, next layer it with half the roasted vegetables and half the fresh spinach sprinkled over. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and repeat the layers, pressing down as you do it, so it fill the baking dish.
Cover the top with the more grated parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese and any extra egg mixture if you have any.
Bake for about 1 hour until the top has golden spots and the center is firm.
Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving

This pudding can be refrigerated overnight, then rewarmed at 350 F.

Thai red-curry squash soup

I adore any food from South-East Asia and as I eat less and less meat, this recipe is a definite one for the repertoire.
Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 12.52.00 PM

Serves 8

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger, plus 1 cup slivered fresh ginger for garnish
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
3 lbs kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
5 cups water of chicken stock
Two 13.5 oz cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 keffir lime leaves or 1 tsp lime zest
1 large stalk of fresh lemongrass, smashed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large scallions, thinly sliced
a few cilantro stalks for garnish (coriander)

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter. Add the onion and sliced ginger and cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 7 minutes.
Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the squash and water/stock and bring to the boil.Cover partially and simmer over low heat until soft, 25 minutes. Add the coconut milk, broken up lime leaves and lemongrass, cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes longer. Discard the lime leaves and lemongrass.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender; add it to a clean pot. Stir in the sugar and lime juice and season with salt.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the 1 cup of slivered ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the ginger to paper towels to drain.

Reheat the soup; ladle it into the bowls. Garnish with the fried ginger, scallions and a few cilantro leaves (coriander) and serve

Baked butternut squash, cheese and bacon polenta cake

Oh my gosh, this combination is pretty heady. If you want to keep it vegetarian, leave out the bacon and use vegetable broth, but I like to incorporate the meaty components.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 12.06.51 PM

Serves 8 to 10

One 2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced 1 inch thick
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 tsp dried sage, crumbled or 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or half and half with 3 cups of water and 3 cups of stock)
2 cups coarse polenta
unsalted butter
5 oz smoked Gouda cheese, shredded or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 375F
Arrange the squash on a large oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until tender. Transfer the squash to a bowl and mash coarsely. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups)
While the squash is roasting, spread the pine nuts on a pie plate and toast in the oven for 4 minutes, until golden. Coarsely chop the nuts.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and sage and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 25 minutes.Add a few tbsp of water if the onions start getting dry.

In a saucepan bring the 6 cups stock/water to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and 1 tsp salt. Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 35 minutes.The polenta will get very thick and that is fine. Stir in 1 tbsp butter along with the mashed squash, pine nuts, bacon, onion, Gouda or cheddar cheese and half the Parmesan cheese.Pour the hot polenta into a large springform pan or a 2 quart braising dish sprayed with non stick spray.
Flatten the top of the polenta slightly without spreading it to the edges; refrigerate until firm for up to an hour.

Cut 1 tbsp of the remaining butter over the polenta and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsp parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 375F oven for 1 hour, until the top and sides are lightly browned and crisp.
Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting it into wedges
Serve with sauteed mushrooms, braised greens or tomato sauce.

Thai Butternut squash and seafood curry

Image

This has the most amazing flavors and I have made it at least 6 times, always successfully. With the yellow (or red) curry paste, go carefully as different curry pastes have different strengths. You don’t want to overpower the seafood.
If you use green beans as the green vegetable, make sure you parboil and shock them in cold water before adding them to the pan.

Serves 4 generously.
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk ( about 1 2/3 cups)
1 to 2 tbsp yellow or red curry paste ( I used 1 tbsp)
1 1/2 cups fish stock
3 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla is a great one)
2 tbsp sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into 1/3’s and bruised with the flat of a knife
3 keffir lime leaves, (or regular ones if you can’t get keffir lime leaves) stalked and cut into very thin strips.
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 1/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into large, bite sized chunks
1lb 2oz salmon fillet, skinned and cut into large bite sized chunks
1/b 2oz peeled, deveined raw shrimp
Bok Choy or any other green vegetable of your choice
1/2 to 1 lime, juiced or more to taste
Cilantro, for garnish

Skin the thick creamy top off the can of coconut milk and put it into a large saucepan or Dutch oven with the curry paste, over medium heat.
Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat the cream and paste together until combined. Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish sauce, fish stock,  sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric.
Bring to the boil then add the butternut squash. Cook on a fast simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 mins.

*  You can cook the recipe up until this part in advance, maybe leaving the butternut squash with some bite still in it as it will continue to soften as the pan cools. Either way, when you’re about 5 mins from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

To the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and shrimp. When the salmon and shrimp have cooked through, which will only take about 3 to 4 minutes, stir in any green vegetable you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits and push down into the sauce with a wooden spoon.
When the green vegetable is cooked, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it.
Take the pan off the heat and pour the curry into a large bowl and sprinkle over the cilantro; the point is that the cilantro goes in just before serving.
Serve with more chopped cilantro for people to add to their own bowls as they eat and some plain Thai jasmine or Basmati rice.

 

 

Prosciutto wrapped sea bass with roasted Autumn vegetables

I have been thinking about this recipe ever since I watched the “Barefoot Contessa” make it.
Finally I made it tonight with some modifications and it really is lovely with sweet roasted root vegetables, moist sea bass enclosed in the salty prosciutto, and the lovely woodsy flavor of the rosemary infused buttery lemon sauce.

 

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 8.10.23 PM

Prep time 20 mins
Cooking time 1 hour
Serves 4, but is easily augmented

2 cups peeled, seeded and diced (1/2-inch) butternut squash
2 cups peeled and diced (1/2 inch) diced parsnips
2 cups peeled and diced (1/2 inch) diced carrots
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
4 ( 7 oz ) fillets skinless sea bass fillets
6 to 8 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, clarified butter or ghee
6 good sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

For the vegetables;
Put the butternut squash, parsnips and carrots in a large bowl.Finely cut 2 sprigs of the fresh rosemary and add to the vegetables. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and the garlic. Add about 1/3 cup olive oil and toss together with your hands until well mixed together.
Line a shallow roasting tray with aluminum foil, spread the vegetables out in a single layer and roast for 30 mins, turning once during the cooking until they are tender and starting to brown.
Meanwhile, line another sheet pan with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on top of the foil.
Brush the fish fillets on both sides with olive oil and season liberally with salt and ground pepper.
Wrap each fillet with a slice or two of prosciutto to form a wide band around the center of the fillet.
Arrange the fillets on the rack with the prosciutto seam side down and roast for 10 to 15 minutes until barely cooked.
While the vegetables and fish are roasting, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized saute pan.
Add the rosemary sprigs and cook over low heat until the rosemary leaves are crisp and the butter begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Discard the rosemary, stir in the lemon juice and set aside.
To serve, place the vegetables in the middle of a shallow bowl, lay a piece of the prosciutto wrapped fish on top.
Spoon the butter/rosemary sauce over the fish and vegetables.
Garnish with a small sprig of rosemary and a wedge of lemon and serve hot.

Warm Squash & Chickpea Salad with tahini sauce and cilantro.

This is a warm, filling, vegan salad. Lovely flavors and earthy.

Serves 4
2lbs butternut squash or other winter squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp olive oil
seal salt and black pepper
14 oz canned or home-cooked chickpeas, drained
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (soaked in cold water for 15 mins if you want to soften the bite)
4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt
3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp water, to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 425 F

Toss the squash with the garlic, allspice, olive oil, some salt and pepper.
Place on a baking tray, optionally lined with parchment, in the oven for 25 minutes or until soft.
Remove and allow to cool slightly.

While the squash is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix the crushed garlic with lemon juice and add the tahini.
Now thin with the water and olive oil and check for seasoning.
You should taste a balance between the nutty tahini and the sharp lemon.

To assemble  the salad;  Place the squash, chickpeas, red onion and cilantro in a mixing bowl.

Pour in the tahini sauce and remaining oil and toss carefully.
Season with salt and pepper

 

Roasted pesto, parmesan vegetable traybake

Yesterday, I did another traybake. I was on my own so decided to cut up a whole pile of vegetables, toss them with a container of pesto sauce from Trader Joes, lots of garlic, and when they were 3/4 through with the roasting, I threw at least half a container of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over everything and roasted it till it was all melted and browned.
It was divine and so healthy!

Preheat oven to 350 F

Vegetables

 You can choose whatever is in your fridge, but I used;
3 leeks, sliced into 1 inch slices
1lb Brussel Sprouts, trimmed
1/2 large cauliflower broken into florets
2 large red onions, cubed into 1 “ pieces
2 Delicata squash, unpeeled and cubed into 1” pieces
2 zucchini, cut into 1 “ slices

6 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 container Trader Joes pesto sauce (8oz)
6 oz (at least) grated Parmigano Reggiano

Put all the vegetables into a very large bowl then season well and add the garlic and pesto sauce.

Mix together well with your hands and tip all the contents out onto a large baking tray with shallow sides, like the one in the picture.

Roast the vegetables for 25 mins then turn all the vegetables to avoid burning and continue to roast for another 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese and return to oven, turning the oven up to 400F for another 15 to 20 minutes until toasty and melted.

Serve on it’s own, or with a salad