Butternuts for roasting

This week I’ve got the last of this season’s butternut squash. After this any of the stuff you see around is most likely to be from another hemisphere. I love  butternut but not enough to have it make a journey from Argentina. If you haven’t cooked it before, butternut squash makes all kinds of wonderful soups, gratins and stews. It’s also great served on its own (roasted, boiled, steamed or fried) then dressed with a little sea salt, olive oil and the tiniest dash of balsamic vinegar.

Flavourwise, its earthy and quite sweet (which makes it a great weaning food for babies) and goes very well with garlic, leeks, onions, potatoes, chiles, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, parsley, sage and orange. Most recipes call for just the flesh and getting the skin off does look daunting but it’s not really. I find the best way is to quarter it first and then peel. After that, take out the seeds and stringy bits and cut the flesh as required. And what a lot of people don’t know is if you roast your butternut the skin ends up soft enough to eat which makes things even easier.

One of the simplest ways to cook butternut comes from a friend who reckons she got the recipe in New Zealand.You basically cut your butternut in half and stick in the oven so it really couldn’t be less labour intensive…..

Sweet roasted Butternut

You’ll need:

Butternuts (of course!!!!)

Butter

Brown sugar

Sea salt

Cinnamon or chili

Clean the skin and cut the butternut in half, then roast it softside up for 20 minutes. Turn it over and smear the flesh with butter, brown sugar, a generous pinch of sea salt and either a pinch of cinnamon or chili.

Butternuts with sugar and cinnamon

Return to the oven and roast for a further 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your squash or until the flash has caramelised.

This is fantastic served with lamb, pork or some baked feta cheese with a cous cous salad dressed with olive oil, toasted pine nuts and plenty of chopped rocket or flatleaf parsley.

Roasted butternut

With the weather so horrible it had to be soup today and I made one of my favourites –  butternut, with Parmesan and thyme. It’s quite a simple recipe but it gives knockout results. I’ve served it on Christmas day it’s that good. The sharp salty tang of the cheese combines with the thyme to give an almost meaty flavour that’s incredibly moreish. There’s a little cream in there too which means it’s nicely filling aswell.

Butternut Soup with Parmesan and Thyme (for 2 as a lunch or 3 as a starter)

You’ll need:

500gr peeled butternut

60ml olive oil

1 small onion chopped

4 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

750ml vegetable stock (as usual I cheat and use Marigold)

2 tablespoons double cream

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan and some Parmesan shavings for garnish (make these with your veg peeler)

Sour cream for garnishing at the end – not absolutely crucial and some regular cream or yogurt will also do fine

Heat the olive oil in a pot over a lowish heat then very gently sweat the butternut for about 5 minutes then add the onion, garlic and thyme. Continue cooking gently for another 10 minutes. Turn up the heat a little and add the vegetable stock in 3 stages stirring well between each addition. Bring everything to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer, season with salt and pepper then cover and continue cooking for a further 25 minutes.

Butternut soup

To finish the soup off add 2 tablespoons of double cream and the grated Parmesan. Check and correct the seasoning if necessary then cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending until smooth adding a little more stock if necessary to get the consistency you want. Before serving reheat and garnish with a drizzle of sour cream if you have it and some Parmesan shavings. Don’t forget that soup freezes really well so it’s worth making a double or triple quantity you can use spuds and/or carrots to make up any shortfall on the butternut front.

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Butternut and Mirabelles

August 21, 2009

Hi there,

This week we have the start of Autumn varieties – Butternut Squash and New Parsnips. Seems unfair given we haven’t really had a summer but I suppose there’s always September (we Irish never give up the faith). This week’s recipe is a salad with Butternut Squash and Rocket. If you haven’t had it before, Butternut can be boiled, steamed or roasted (there are several recipes already on the blog including a really amazing soup).  When you roast Butternut it caramelises on the outside adding great flavour. Then I added some toasted Pine nuts and a little Goat’s Cheese. Perfect for a Saturday lunch…….

Roasted Butternut Salad with Rocket(Arugula)  and Goat’s Cheese

You’ll need:

300gr peeled Butternut cut into bite sized Cubes

60 gr Rocket (about what you have in this week’s bag) or any other salad leaves

A handful of Pine nuts

150gr Chevre Goat’s Cheese

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Begin by preparing the Butternut. I find the best way is to quarter it remove the seeds and stringy bits and then chop it up.Put the Butternut on a roasting tray and with your hands smear about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil on them then roast in a hottish oven (Gas mark 6 or 200 degrees) for about 30- 40 minutes or until the pieces are soft and starting to caramelize.

You can toast the Pine nuts in the oven (on a separate tray) so stick them in and toast until they’ve started to change colour (should take about 10 minutes but check on them after 5). When the Butternut is ready let it cool down a bit them toss it with the Rocket and Pine nuts. Dress the lot with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Eat with nice bread or a Cous Cous salad (try Cous Cous, Chopped Dates, some Sultanas and some toasted Cumin Seeds dressed in Olive Oil and Lemon Juice)

The tiny plums in your bag this week are Mirabelles and they’re only around for a couple of weeks every year. Completely delicious, they should be eaten asap and there’s no need to add anything – Yum!!!!

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

Carrots and mushrooms

April 20, 2009

From Margaret …some Carrot recipes

Carrots go well with cumin and orange and thyme. They are good cut into batons then put in tinfoil and oven roasted with cumin and butter and orange juice (or white wine or stock). They need about forty minutes in a moderate oven. Serve as a side dish.

Another nice idea is carrot, cumin and orange soup. At this time of the year I like to grow lovage and add some but thyme is also good.
An Indian style salad with popped mustard seed, grated carrot, chile, oil and raisins is always welcome. If watching the carbs substitute fine strips of carrot or courgette for pasta or noodles.

I roasted some carrots with onions blitzed them and made a risotto. This recipe would be good with any root veg (roasted parsnip with rosemary) or with roasted peppers (and a basil maybe) or butternut squash(and thyme) or aubergine (add plenty of lemon and cumin). If you are having a busy week roast the veg in advance at the weekend when you have the oven on anyway. Puree while still hot and use for risotto or as a side dish or a souffle or in a veg tart.

carrots

carrots

Carrots

roast carrot risotto
400g of carrot peeled and sliced thinly
1 onion peeled and roughly chopped
50 ml olive oil
1.2-1,5 l veg stock
150g butter
2 cloved garlic peeled and finely sliced
400g risotto rice (I prefer carnoroli)
1 bay leaf
4 tsp fresh thyme leaves(or dried)
2 tsp fresh tarragon leaves (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
finely grated rind and juice of two lemons (optional)
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 200. Put carrots onion and olive oil in roasting dish and roast till golden – about 25 minutes. Finely chop or blitz in food processor. In a heavy pot saute onion and garlic in butter stirring gently till softened. Add rice turn up heat and fry for a minute stirring well. Add herbs and season, then carrots, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Then start adding stock bit by bit as normal for risotto and cook until the rice is done.
Serve with parmesan. If you are a forager like me add some wild leek/garlic to garnish (you will spot in the parks and in gardens now a white star shaped bluebell type taste …unmistakable)

Serve with salad

This is adapted from a Peter Gordon recipe for arancini

Arancini is leftover risotto made into balls dipped in breadcrumb and egg and fried . Personally I would never make a risotto from scratch for arancini but if you have the patience… Make extra and use leftovers….

This week coming my risotto will be with wild garlic, nettles and courgettes… yum and very healthy. Nettle tops are full of vitamins and minerals and make a good tonic. Get those gloves out and get picking !! Once the leaves are boiled the sting is gone. Puree and put thro’ risotto.

For a light supper or a lunchbox try carrot fritters.

For 2-3 people
3 medium carrots grated and then squeezed in a clean tea towel
1 egg beaten(or use 2 tbsp chickpea flour and water)
1 tbsp plain flour or potato flour
teaspoon cumin seed or cumin and caraway mixed (lightly toasted on dry frying pan)
black pepper
chopped red chile (optional)
oil
Heat oven to 150
Put the finely grated carrrot into a bowl and season with pepper, Mix in all other ingredients. Roll into small balls with your fingertips. Or make into patties if easier.

Heat oil in a wok at about 3 inches depth. Carefully brown fritters on all sides then remove and dry on kitchen paper. Put on a roasting tray in the oven for 15 minutes.

Then make a sauce to have with them with either sour cream or greek yoghurt a squeeze of lemon and chopped coriander or parsley or dill…. Whatever beckons. They can be varied with added grated courgette or shredded spinach or pakchoi and eaten straight out of the oven with an indian style tomato sauce.

In your bag this week is also chestnut mushroom which would be good sauted and then on a pizza or veg tart with some goats cheese. Mushroom are also good cooked and mixed through a salad with greens and pine nuts…Or mushroom on toast with butter and grated parsley and a rasher.. or mushroom stroganoff.

Another option is to wilt some pak choi in a little oil then cook lightly with rice vinegar, sake and fish sauce (or oyster sauce) adding the mushrooms and a little water.