All the components for Ottolenghi’s squash dish.
Vegetarians rejoice! On October 14, celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi released another vegetarian cookbook, “Plenty More”, a sequel to the best-selling cookbook, “Plenty“.
With the hype surrounding “Plenty More”’s release, recipes from the book are bouncing around the foodie blogosphere. I considered making the Peas With Sorrel And Mustard, but was put off by my inability to find sorrel at a speciality grocery store, let alone figure out what sorrel is in the first place.
CBS quoted Ottolenghi saying the “squash with chile yogurt and cilantro sauce” is the “simplest recipe in the book and destined to become a [favourite].” Sold.
Squash with Chile Yogurt and Cilantro Sauce
Ingredients (serves four)
1 large butter nut squash (3 lb/1.4 kg)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp/90 ml olive oil
1¾ oz/50 g cilantro, leaves and stems, plus extra leaves for garnish
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Scant 2½ tbsp/20 g pumpkin seeds
1 cup/200 g Greek yogurt
1½ tsp Sriracha or another savory chile sauce
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds, and then cut into wedges ¾ inch/2 cm wide and about 2¾ inches/7 cm long, leaving the skin on. Place in a large bowl with the cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and a good grind of pepper. Mix well so that the squash is evenly coated. Place the squash, skin side down, on 2 baking sheets and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until soft and starting to color on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the herb paste, place the cilantro, garlic, the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, and a generous pinch of salt in the bowl of a small food processor, blitz to form a fine paste, and set aside.
Turn down the oven temperature to 350ºF/180ºC. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. The outer skin will pop open and the seeds will become light and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
When you are ready to serve, swirl together the yogurt and Sriracha sauce. Lay the squash wedges on a platter and drizzle the spicy yogurt sauce and then the herb paste over the top (you can also swirl the yogurt sauce and herb paste together, if you like). Scatter the pumpkin seeds on top, followed by the extra cilantro leaves, and serve.
(Courtesy Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House Publishing.)
At the heart of it, it’s a roasted squash recipe with three different toppings: cilantro sauce, spicy yogurt and roasted seeds.
While the butternut squash roasts in a coat of olive oil and cinnamon, I blitz up the cilantro-garlic sauce. I then stir together the Greek yogurt with the Internet’s beloved hot sauce, sriracha. After 35 minutes, I take the squash out of the oven, and slip in a cookie sheet of sunflower seeds for five minutes.
(Note: the recipe calls for pumpkin seeds, but I used sunflower because that’s what I had on hand.)
In five minutes, the seeds are done roasting and I’m ready to plate the dish: laying down the squash first, then layering the herb puree, yogurt sauce and roasted seeds. The finished product is much less graceful that the pictures in “Plenty More”, but nonetheless, tasty. It is sweet and toothsome and creamy. The yogurt sauce cuts the heat in the sriracha and the tender squash plays well with the crunchy seeds.
If only the squash recipe didn’t take so long to make. From butchering the squash to plating, it took the better part of an hour to get the dish on the table.
Beginner chefs may be better served by another Ottolenghi cookbook (the spicy zucchini burger’s in Jerusalem is a favourite of mine).
If you’re unwilling to attempt Ottolenghi’s recipes, start saving up for a trip to London, to eat at one of the chef’s four eponymous restaurants.