I went out for lunch the other day and had a very delicious stuffed butternut squash, which reminded me of a similar dish eaten many years ago courtesy of Jamie Oliver. It was so long ago, Jamie was pre-Sainsbury’s, pre-kids, pre-school lunch crusading and pre-paella controversy. Love him or hate, he does keep himself busy.
Anyway, I decided to dig out said recipe and cook it for a friend who was coming over for supper. She’s watching the calories too, so I thought this was a pretty healthy, but filling meal. We won’t mention the accompanying wine which, as we all know, is calorie-free on Friday nights.
It can be served on its own (I’m working on how to present it elegantly…will keep you posted) or as a side dish if you have more friends than me. Think of it as a risotto in its own serving case. I’m sure some fancy London restaurant wouldn’t bother with crockery and serve it as is, or on a piece of bark or something. I’m sticking to bowls and a smile.
A smallish handful of dried porcini mushrooms
1 butternut squash, halved lengthways and seeds removed
1 red onion
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pummelled coriander seeds
A pinch or two of dried chilli flakes
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
5 sun-dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper
100g basmati rice
1/2 a handful of lightly toasted pinenuts
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 220ºC (200º for fan oven, but they do vary)
Soak the porcini for about 8 minutes in half a mug of freshly boiled water.
Using the sturdiest small spoon you can find (I actually use an ice-cream scoop — a proper one, not one with the half-sphere on it), score and scoop out some of the flesh the squash, leaving two hollowed-out halves.
Because I’m too lazy to ‘finely chop’ the onion, I put the scooped flesh, the onion, garlic, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, the coriander seeds and the chilli flakes into a blender and blitz them, before frying them for about 4 minutes with a decent drizzle of garlic oil (plain olive oil will do, of course).
When they are softened, add the porcini with their soaking water and also the rice. Cook for a further 5 minutes before adding salt and pepper to taste.
Rub the skin of the squash with a little olive oil and place the halves on a large piece of foil. Stir the pine nuts through the mixture and then pack it tightly into the 2 halves of the squash. Press them together, like a big sandwich.
Wrap it in foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 1hr and 15 minutes.
As usual, I completely forgot to take a photo of the finished dish because I was too busy scoffing it. It’s not pretty, but it is very tasty.