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.  

Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

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I found this gorgeous (and easy!) recipe on the BBC Food website and just instantly knew I had to make it. It’s courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour who’s lovely cookbook Persiana I absolutely adore. The Persian pesto with pistachios contains dill, a herb that’s very Scandinavian for me, and I like exploring new ways of using it.

I had this for supper one day, but it works just as well at a mezze table, as a starter or on a buffet.

Butternut squash with Persian pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds, serves 4

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe

1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways (skin-on), and seeds removed 

4 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

150 g feta

100 g pomegranate seeds

For the pesto:

100 g pistachios

70 g parmesan

100 ml olive oil

1 small bunch coriander

1 small bunch parsley

1 small bunch dill

1 red chilli

1 lemon, juice only

2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Rub each wedge of butternut squash with oil and season generously. Place on the lined baking tray. Roast the squash for about 45-50 minutes, just until the edges have begun to brown slightly. Check the squash is cooked by inserting a knife – if it slides in easily the squash is cooked.  

For the pesto, add the pistachios and cheese to a food processor. Pulse to break them into small pieces and add enough olive oil to slacken the mixture to your desired consistency (you may not need all the oil). Add all the herbs and a little more olive oil. Season generously with sea salt and give the mixture one last pulse. Taste the pesto, to make sure it has enough salt and acidity, and allow it to rest in the fridge until you need it. 

To serve, place the butternut squash on plates, drizzled generously with the pesto. Crumble your feta over the top and scatter some pomegranate seeds over to finish. 

Fried aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds

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In the midst of excursions and heavy rainfall in Skåne, I actually managed to cook a little. Among other things this delicious aubergine dish courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour’s amazing cookbook Persiana. I definitely have a thing for aubergine and absolutely loved this and so did the few friends that got the opportunity to try it!

Fried aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, serves 4

Adapted and translated from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

2 large aubergine

olive oil for frying

2 good pinches saffron threads

1-2 tbsp boiling water

250 ml Greek yoghurt

1/2 lemon, the juice

sea salt

2-3 tbsp pomegranate seeds

parsley

Rinse and slice the aubergines lengthways. Either fry the slices in olive oil in a frying pan on the hob or on a baking tray in the oven until soft. Mix saffron and hot water and leave to cool. Mix yoghurt with the saffron water, season to taste with salt (maybe a tad of white pepper) and lemon juice. Chop the parsley. 

Distribute the aubergine slices on a platter, drizzle with saffron yoghurt and scatter pomegranate seeds and parsley on top.

Feta and pistachio dip

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Surprisingly I have actually managed to cook a little this summer, but only little and nothing too advanced. One thing I threw together was this easy feta and pistachio dip that went down a treat. The recipe is from the fabulous cookbook Persiana.

I also made some homemade flatbreads to scoop up the lovely dip with. Super easy and tasty – summer food at its best. 

Feta and pistachio dip, serves 

Recipe from Persiana

100 g shelled pistachios

75 ml olive oil

300 g feta cheese

1 handful dill, chopped

2 handfuls coriander, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 röd chilli, chopped

3 tbsp Greek yoghurt

zest from 1 lemon, juice from 1/2 lemon

sea salt to taste

Mix nuts and oil in a food processor for 30 seconds. Add feta, herbs, garlic, chilli, yoghurt and lemon zest and juice and mix for another minute. Season to taste with sea salt and serve.