Roast butternut squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses

Did you see that? I just wrote a whole entry with no mention of Yotam Ottolenghi. But if you thought my Ottolenghi-mania had passed, you’d be wrong.

The weekend before last I worked with the Real Bread Campaign at the Camden Green Fair, teaching people how to make real bread and pizzas in a portable outdoor oven brought along by David of Manna from Devon.

My local Riverford veg man Paul was also there with a bunch of sample boxes, the contents of which he was very generous with at the end of the day! I walked away with a heaving box of carrots, courgettes, spinach, capsicums, tomatoes, bananas, and a butternut squash. With most of it I just did some marinated roast vegetables with chickpeas and couscous, which did for lunch for most of last week. The spinach became the Green Pancakes from Plenty, and the carrots got juiced.

Which left the butternut squash. There were several recipes in my various cookbooks that appealed, but I’d recently bought some pomegranate molasses so decided to try this recipe from the first Ottolenghi cookbook.

Served cold, I think it makes for a perfect summer supper. It would be great taken along to a barbecue or served at a party alongside other tasty offerings. All of the flavours and textures just worked so well together and I’m already looking forward to making it again.

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Roast butternut squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses

Serves 2-4

1 large butternut squash
4tbsp olive oil
1tbsp pumpkin seeds
1tbsp sunflower seeds
1tbsp black sesame seeds (if unavailable, use white ones)
1tsp nigella seeds
10g sliced almonds
10g basil leaves
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

for the Sauce

1 medium aubergine
150g Greek yoghurt, at room temperature
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp pomegranate molasses
3tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp coarsely chopped flat leaf-parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Trim the top and bottom off the butternut squash and cut it in half lengthways. Remove the seeds using a small knife or a spoon. Cut each half into wedges 2-3cm thick. Arrange the wedges in a roasting tray, standing them up with the skin underneath if possible. Brush with half the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, by which time the wedges should be tender and slightly browned. Leave to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Scatter the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nigella seeds and sliced almonds on a roasting tray and toast for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Leave aside to cool.

For the sauce, place the aubergine directly on a moderate flame on a gas hob (you might want to cover the hob top with foil before you begin). Burn the aubergine for 12-15 minutes, until the skin dries and cracks and smoky aromas are released. Turn it around occasionally, using metal tongs. Remove the aubergine from the heat and leave to cool slightly. (Or, you can place the aubergine under a very hot grill for about an hour, turning it around occasionally; continue until it is well shrivelled on the outside, even if it bursts open.)
Make a long cut through the aubergine. Using a spoon, scoop out the soft flesh while avoiding most of the burnt skin. Drain in a colander for 10 minutes, then transfer to a board and chop roughly.

In a mixing bowl stir together the scooped out aubergine flesh, Greek yoghurt, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley and crushed garlic. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The sauce should be sweetly sharp and highly flavoursome.

Arrange the butternut squash wedges on a serving platter, piling them up on top of each other. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nigella seeds and almonds over and garnish with the basil. Serve the sauce on the side.

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2 thoughts on “Roast butternut squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses

    • Well, I think it’s better in summer really, when aubergines are in season and butternut squash are still available as they can be stored for a long time. If you’re in New Zealand aubergines would have to travel an awfully long way to get to you in winter. Plus, it’s eaten cold, so it’s really quite refreshing. I took some for lunch and it was lovely to sit out in the sun and eat it.

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