JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin in chilli oil

I hesitate to write about something so simple, but this week I read that American recipes for pumpkin all start open a can of pumpkin .... and so I decided to blog this very easy but delicious dish. Good on its own for a light lunch, or as a side dish.

This is THE time of year for squash - they're fresh off the vine - although they'll store all through the winter, and so we'll be eating them regularly until spring. Butternut seems to be the squash of choice for supermarkets and veg box growers alike, but, from a cook's point of view, they're pretty much interchangeable (although some have much more flavour than others*).

At least once a week at the moment, I roast pumpkin plain in a little oil, often with some sliced onion - the result is a sweet, caramel-y mix, even better when flavoured with finely chopped thyme.

This pumpkin in chilli oil is quite different: the bright contrast of red and orange gives a hint of the piquancy - the sweet blandness of the pumpkin soaks up the heat and means that this is a dish even chilli-haters can eat.

Roasted pumpkin in chilli oil

Slice some slivers of garlic into a mortar. Add a little salt, a splosh of olive oil. Then add as much chilli as you dare - start with a little, particularly if, like me, you are catering for people who think they don't like hot spice. Bash vigorously until it's all amalgamated. You can do this in a food processor, but I find mine has too big a bowl and, anyway, there's something therapeutic about wielding a pestle (although I once read that the words pestle and mortar put more people off cooking than any others - feel free to do this with a machine!) . Add more oil until you have enough to generously coat your pumpkin. (There's slightly too much oil in the photograph for a really smooth mixture ... stint at first, and then add what you need for a pouring consistency.)

Next, peel, core and cube your squash**. Put the cubes into a roasting tin, coat with the spiced oil and put into a hot oven for half an hour or so. The exact timing will depend on how hot the oven is (and if you are cooking other things, then just watch it carefully), and the size of the cubes. If you are in any doubt at all about your timings, put the squash in sooner rather than later, because it will retain the heat (or you can put it back into the oven at the end for a quick blast of heat). I find, increasingly, that we eat warm vegetables, rather than hot straight from the oven.

You can also cook this ahead and then reheat it. There'd be two reasons for this - the first would be to save on oven fuel; the second would be to get ahead when you had some spare time ... make your own convenience food, in other words.

This is my entry for this month's Heart of the Matter - Ilva's hosting this month, and she chose the colour orange ... perfect for autumn.

* In the past I've grown crown of thorns and Turk's turban - both beautiful, but neither very tasty. I'd only grow them again for their looks, although Turk's turban is a very good keeper. On the other hand, Little Gem is very tasty (and increasingly available in the supermarket) ... I'm cheating here slightly, as Little Gem is really a summer squash (more like courgette, in other words), whereas Cot, TT and butternut are all winter squash and will store well.

Related posts
Frugal, seasonal food ... all pretty simple to prepare, because I don't much like faffing around in the kitchen

Butternut squash with parsley and mint softly spiced with cinnamon, a really good addition to a vegetarian dinner
Stuffed butternut squash - this is one of my most-visited posts, and a good cheap supper dish
Roast squash bites with pumpkin seed pesto - fabulous finger food, full of goodness
Pumpkin risotto

Links to squash on other blogs

**If you're nervous about cutting a butternut, Kalyn gave good directions earlier in the week.
Butternut squash apple soup - can't decide if this sounds wonderful and worth trying, or utterly disgusting ;)


Kalyn said...

This does sound tasty. I bet the slight bit of heat is great with the butternut. I'm actually convinced you can add just about anything to roasted butternut squash and it will always taste good!

Ilva said...

Thanks Joanna, this sounds so good and obviosly it's perfect for this month's HotM! I have added it to the list!

Anna said...

Ooh yum! I love roast squash. Crown Prince is my favourite - it's the greyish-green one that looks dull and lifeless but is actually bright and sweet inside. Our crop of squash (self-seeded from home compost - ach, the agony, when we spent hours raising everything else from seed!) has been productive but quite small in size this year, but I read on our farm newsletter that theirs have been the same. Actually I don't mind - the smaller, less watery ones are good, especially as I am cooking for two. Our favourite squash dish is roasted chunks with tagliatelle, dressed with olive oil and toasted pine nuts and sage leaves. And some goat's cheese crumbled over at the table. Mmm - I do so love squash! I am posting our harvest pictures later today. ~Anna

Antonia said...

What a great side-dish. I really enjoy squash with a bit of added spice so this sounds wonderful!

Jude said...

I always slather this stuff in butter.. Not the healthiest choice. This is a great idea since I always have chili oil in the fridge.

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