Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies

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Recently I’ve been ordering Abel & Cole’s vegetable boxes on a regular basis, and although I love the fresh organic produce, sometimes I find myself wondering what to cook with certain vegetables.

Sure, I have a few butternut squash recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just want to try something new, without knowing what that something new would be… That’s when I’m grateful for my (rather large) cookbook collection. I love to grab a pile of cookbooks and search through them looking for that something I didn’t know I was looking for. This last time it was this wonderful recipe by Sabrina Ghayour from Persiana that caught my eye and I absolutely love it.

I had half of it for dinner the same night and the rest for lunch at work the day after (and received lots of envious looks from my colleagues), but it would work just as well as a starter or a side dish.

Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies, serves 4 as a side dish

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

1 large butternut squash

3 tbsp za’atar

3 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

Yoghurt sauce:

200 g Greek yoghurt 

a bunch of mint, finely chopped (I didn’t have any mint at home and therefore omitted it)

2 tsp sumac

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tbsp olive oil

zest and juice from 1 lemon

black pepper

To serve:

1 bunch parsley

Pickled red chillies (I couldn’t find any and so brought fresh one, sliced them and covered them in lime juice for approx 20 minutes, then chopped into smaller pieces) 

nigella seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 240C. Line a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper.

Cut the squash horizontally in half at the point of the bulge. Now halve each portion vertically. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard, then halve each piece vertically again until you have 8 pieces. Peel the squash and cut the pieces into any shape you wish. 

Make a paste with the za’atar and olive oil in a small bowl and rub the squash pieces all over with paste until every piece is well coated. Place all the pieces on to the prepared baking sheet. Season with sea salt, then roast for about 40-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces of squash), or until the edges start to brown and almost char a little. 

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the yoghurt with the fresh mint, sumac, coriander, olive oil, lemon zest and juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  

Remove the squash pieces from the oven and place them on a serving platter. Liberally dollop or pour the yoghurt over the wedges, then sprinkle with the parsley. Follow this with a scant scattering of nigella seeds. Lastly scatter over the pickled chillies.  

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