It’s getting quite autumnal here in London and with the leaves turning yellow and temperatures getting cooler I feel drawn to hearty, oven cooked meals that warm you from the inside. Having had a butternut squash in most of my recent weekly veg boxes, I decided to experiment with something new and like so often a recipe was born out of an effort to cook something delicious with what was left in the fridge. Allow about an hour of cooking time, not so much for preparation - it’s actually pretty straight forward -but for roasting as the squash just gets better and better with that little bit of extra time in the oven. Scooping out the flesh requires a little determination, otherwise it’s the food processor doing all the hard work. I highly recommend making an extra effort to extract the seeds from the flesh to roast them with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Not only do they taste delicious, but they are also jam packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A & C, folate, potassium, calcium and iron)!
What you need:
1 medium butternut squash – washed (the skin is eatable) and deseeded, keeping the seeds
Approx. 6 large kale leaves - washed
20 walnut halves
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
Handful of pine kernels
1 tin of cannellini beans – drained and rinsed
3-4 stalks of thyme (fresh or frozen)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
For the butternut marinade:
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp maple syrup
How you do it:
Preheat your oven at fan 160C.
Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds (but don’t discard them) and with a spoon try to remove around 1/3 of the flesh if you can (don’t discard the flesh either!).
On a lined baking tray bake the squash halves cut side DOWN for approx. 30mins. (you can brush it with a little marinade or just a bit of oil, you’ll use the marinade a little later).
Add the excess squash flesh and the kale leaves (roughly chopped if they are long and very tough stems removed) to a food processor and blitz until coarsely ground.
Add the walnut halves and briefly blitz again for a few seconds at the time, you don’t want the nuts to turn into a paste.
In a non-stick frying pan heat up the olive oil and fry the onion for a few minutes before adding the kale/walnut/squash mixture.
Fry for 5mins on medium heat, then add garlic and pine kernels.
Fry for another 5-10mins stirring regularly, you want the mixture to be soft with all excess moisture evaporated and slightly caramelized.
Turn off the hob, gently mix in the cannellini beans and season to taste.
Check on your squash, turn it over and generously marinade the cut side before returning it to the oven (this time cut side UP) for another 15-20mins.
In a sieve wash any flesh off the squash seeds, spread them onto a lined baking tray adding a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt then put them in the oven as well (bellow the squash).
Once the squash looks nice and golden with the marinade lightly caramelized it’s time to spoon in the stuffing, gently pushing it down to fully load it up.
Return it to the oven for another 10mins or until piping hot, keep an eye on it to make sure the stuffing doesn’t get too brown on top.
Check on the seeds, they should be lightly browned and crunchy at this point.
Gently slice the squash to serve it up, don’t forget to scatter some seeds over the top.