Once I accept that the cold weather is here to stay I can then begin to appreciate the beauty of autumn. The golden colours and swirling leaves against the green of the grass or the red brick houses are breathtaking.
I had another view coming home late one evening in the rain – the streetlights emphasising the golden colours and the shining pavements. It was quite beautiful.
This recipe is perfect to come home to on these crisp cold autumn evenings. The sweetness of the squash is perfectly complemented by the spicy, salty, citrusy sauce. It comes together fairly quickly, the sauce cooking while the squash roasts. Leave out the aubergine if it is a step too much – though I really like the smoky flavour it lends to the ensemble. I first made this 7 years ago based on a recipe that Nigel Slater had written for the Observer and it was so good that I wrote out my version in one of my notebooks. I do hope you will give it a try.
I am entering today’s recipe in the lovely Deena’s FFF (Fabulous Fusion Food) Challenge. Do go over and have a rummage round her blog – her recipes are amazing, full of flavour and so original. Over on http://www.deenakakaya.com she cooks vegetarian recipes with an Indian influence. She ran a competition recently on her blog and I am the lucky recipient of tickets to the BBC Good Food Show on Saturday, where she will be on stage. I am so looking forward to meeting her at long last!
A note on the ingredients:
- Both soy and tamari sauces are made with fermented soy beans but tamari contains no (or little) wheat so is ideal for vegans and coeliacs – check the label before buying as some brands may have wheat in them.
- Depending on how much heat you like, removing the chilli seeds and the membrane they cling to will lessen the fire. Wash your hands straight after handling the chilies.
- I chose to use a coconut milk powder by Maggi which allows me to control the amount of liquid and the depth of flavour. I normally use tins of coconut but didn’t want a runny sauce so I used the powder instead. I bought it from the fantastic Indian supermarket around the corner from me but it is also available at Tesco and on Amazon. It tastes really delicious and would be great in a milkshake or ice-cream…
- A heavy butternut squash indicates a good ‘un! A lighter one will have more seeds and less flesh. I don’t peel them unless I absolutely have to as they are so tough. It is much easier to roast them in their skins which then slide off really easily. This is also how I cook them for soups before blending with stock.
Butternut Squash with a Spicy Coconut Sauce
Adapted from Nigel Slater Steamed Pumpkin, Red Curry Sauce
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 small aubergine/eggplant
- 2 long red chilies, halved and deseeded if you wish to cut down on the heat (I did)
- 2 inch chunk of ginger peeled and sliced roughly
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled
- 4 bulbs from the stalks of lemon grass,
- 3 banana shallots or use 6 normal sized ones, peeled and halved
- 4 tsp of lime juice and 8 tsp of tamari sauce (this is a substitute for fish sauce so if you are not vegan or vegetarian, use 4 Tbsp of fish sauce)
- 1 or 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp of coconut milk powder in 1 cup of warm water. Or use half a tin of coconut milk
- Handful of chopped coriander leaves
- Steamed Jasmine rice and lime wedges to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Put a griddle pan on the hob on a moderate setting, to heat up.
- Use a large sharp, heavy knife to cut the butternut squash into half and then half again so that you have 4 wedges. Put it in a roasting tin, skin, seeds and all, and drizzle over a little oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is knife tender. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon – so easy once it is cooked!
- Slice the aubergine lengthways into ½ cm slices. Griddle them (without any oil) for about 3 minutes on each side or until tender. Remove to a plate and drizzle with a tiny amount of oil.
- Blitz together the chilies, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and shallots until they are pretty finely chopped. With the motor running add the tamari sauce and lime juice (or fish sauce). You may need to add one or two tablespoons of water to make the paste come together.
- Scrape the paste into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Let it cook off for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and ½ a can of water and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring from time to time.
- Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
- To serve, place a couple of slices of griddled aubergine on a plate and place a butternut squash wedge on the top of it. Add a serving spoon of rice and then spoon over some of the sauce. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and serve with a lime wedge on the side.
Left over sauce is amazing with fish or seafood and noodles – just saying’…