I grew Butternut Squash for the first time this year. Just one plant, but it was so successful I wish I’d grown more. Up until now I’d relied on the wonderfully flavoursome potimarron – a small, densely fleshed pumpkin with a super nutty flavour and one of the most popular here in western France. You can roast it, make great soup (goes especially well with leeks and I’ll give you the recipe soon), risotto and curries. But I’ve found that Butternut Squash is equally as adaptable and there’s still plenty of dishes I want to try.
I love to cook on a dull, damp Saturday like today. First on the agenda was something tasty for lunch. I started by roasting half a Butternut Squash I had left over from making a curry earlier in the week. The cut halves keep very well wrapped in cling film in the bottom of the fridge. The plan was to make Roast Butternut Squash soup and some Soda Bread.
You need to start preparing this from scratch about an hour and a half in advance but you could easily roast the squash ahead of time or the day before and leave in the fridge until you’re ready. I find that if I roast both halves, we can enjoy an evening meal with one half such as stuffed Butternut Squash with blue cheese and walnuts, then make a soup a day or two later with the remaining half.
Roast Butternut Squash Soup (serves 2)
1 half Butternut Squash
1 clove garlic
1 onion, chopped
½ pint vegetable stock
salt & pepper
pinch fresh nutmeg
crème fraiche to serve (optional)
Begin by scooping out the seeds from the squash. Place the halved squash in an ovenproof dish, place a peeled garlic clove in the depression where the seeds were and pour in a good glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper then place in an oven (preheated to 180°C) until the flesh is soft when you insert a knife – about 45 minutes. When cooked, leave to one side to cool a little while you soften a chopped onion in some olive oil in a large saucepan. Remove the flesh from the skin of the squash with a spoon and add it to the onion, not forgetting any of the lovely seasoned olive oil and the roast garlic clove. At this stage I add a pinch of fresh nutmeg but you could experiment with different flavours – a finely chopped fresh chilli added to the onion will give the soup a nice kick. Add the stock (adjust the quantity if necessary) and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Whizz the soup into a smooth consistency in a blender or with a stick blender like me, taste and season if necessary. Serve with a swirl of crème fraiche and some fresh bread.
This is ideal when you want fresh bread quickly as it takes less than an hour from start to finish and it looks great on the table. Serve warm.
170g plain flour
170g self-raising flour
½ tspn salt
½ tspn bicarbonate of soda
½ pint buttermilk
Begin by mixing the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the buttermilk. If you can’t get buttermilk (soured milk), just add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the milk, stir and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix with a fork until it’s mostly combined then you’ll have to get your hand in there and bring it together into a soft dough. Lightly flour your work surface and just knead the dough lightly to bring it into a ball then place on a floured baking tray. Take a sharp knife and score a deep cross into the top of the dough. Bake in a hot oven (200°C) for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and sounding hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf.
Place the loaf on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before serving when you can just pull it apart and spread with butter. Delicious!