Butternut squash, the quintessential winter vegetable, Â is strictly speaking in season only from November to December. Â I love it all year around and for me it works in warm comforting winter soups, stews and curries as well as in summary and light salads.
Looking at nutrient’s value of squash, we should be eating it all year around at least once a week. Â It has about half the calories of potatoes (40Â kcal per 100 g to be precise), it is low in saturated fats and sodium and gives you an important source of primarily vitamin A, and to a lesser extent vitamin C and iron.
Imagine you consume 205 g butternut squashh and nothing else: Â with this you will have stocked up 457% of your daily value (DV) for Vitamin A. That’s not all, you’ll get 55% of your daily Vvitamin C intake, 13% of vitamin E and vitamin B6 and bits and pieces of other important vitamines such a s Thiamin, Niacin and Folate. Â ButternutÂ squashÂ is also a rich source for mineral such as Magnesium, Potassium, and Manganese. Â Crucially, Â there are no bad fats in butternut squash, only the good unsaturated boys in the form of Â Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
If this is not enough to convince you yet, there is increasing evidence from peer-reviewed scientific literature, thatÂ Cucurbitacin, the bitter substance in butternut squash and other fruits and vegetables, might have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
More and more reason to love butternut squash (if it wasn’t for the peeling and cutting which I hate).
When a few weeks ago I read Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for roasted butternut squash in the Saturday Guardian, I was initially less than convinced. Â It sounded too sweet, almost like a dessert, and I doubted it would reach the quality of the Ottolenghi’s other tried and loved Â butternut squashÂ recipe,Â roasted butternut squash with cardamom and lime.
I am happy to admit that I was wrong, as it was superb. Â The butternut squash becomes lovely and soft, almost falling apart and the sweet flesh is immersed with oriental spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. Â Fresh greenÂ chilliesÂ give you the necessary kick, while the fragrant green coriander and the Greek yoghurt counterbalance the sweetness of the dish.
It works well on its own as a starter, but I imagine it would go very well as a side for oriental lamb or beef dish.
Roasted butternut squash with cardamom and nigella seeds (Ottolenghi)
Amount: 4 as a starter/side, 2 as a main
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 20g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1cm-thick slices
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces
- 30g pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp nigella seeds, plus extra toÂ garnish
- Â½ tsp each ground cumin andÂ coriander
- Â¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 green chilli, halved lengthways
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 200ml vegetable stock
- 100g Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1. Heat the oven to 200C
2. Put the butter and oil in aÂ large sautÃ© pan, and fry the onion for eight minutes over medium heat until soft. Add the butternut, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to colour.
3. Remove from the heat and add half a teaspoon of salt, the ground cumin, tumeric and coriander, the cinnamon stick, the nigella seeds, the crushed cardamom seeds, chilli and sugar.
4.Â Mix and transfer to an ovenproof dish large enough to hold everything snugly. Pour in the stock and roast for 30 minutes, by which point the butternut should beÂ tender and all the liquid absorbed or evaporated.
5. Serve warm with cold yoghurt spooned on top, a sprinkling of chopped coriander and a few nigella seeds.