Roasted butternut squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses

The best thing about autumn is the emergence of the squash and pumpkin. I really love butternut squash’s sweet but firm flesh but I have also discovered the delights of experimenting with other squashes. My favourite is onion squash and I think it could work beautifully in this dish as well. Onion squash is kind of similar to butternut squash except it’s darker in colour, slightly sweeter and has an earthiness to it. Ottolenghi’s recipes will use pomegranate and aubergines quite frequently. I adore this combination and it is relatively easy to find pomegranate molasses, they stock it almost everywhere. I think the best tasting ones can be found in middle eastern stores such as the ones you find along Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush.

Roasted butternut squash with burnt aubergine and pomegranate molasses

1 large butternut squash (or two onion squashes)

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

10 sliced almonds

coase sea salt and black pepper

Sauce

1 medium aubergine

150g Greek yoghurt, at room temperature

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1½ teaspoons pomegranate molasses

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 garlic clove, crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Trim and cut the butternut squash (leave the skin on) into long wedges about 2–3cm thick. Arrange on a roasting tray so that they are not too close together with the skin underneath. Brush half the olive oil on the squash, and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the squash appears to be tender and slightly browned. Set aside.

2. Turn the oven down to 180°C. Place the seeds and almonds on a roasting tray and spread out evenly. Toast in the oven till lightly browned. Leave to cool.

3. Now to make the sauce: put the aubergine directly on a moderate flame on a gas hob. Burn the skin of the aubergine for 12–15 minutes till the skin cracks and is good and smoky. Remove from heat and cool. The other option which works quite well too is to grill the aubergine under a very hot grill for an hour, turning till it is well shrivelled round the outside.

4. Cut the aubergine in half and scoop out the soft flesh. Discard the brunt skin and drain the flesh in a colander. Once drained, chop roughly.

5. Put the aubergine flesh into a bowl and add yoghurt, oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, parsley and garlic. Taste and season with salt and pepper. It should taste sweet, tart and full of depth.

6. Serve the wedges of butternut squash sprinkled with seeds, drizzled with the remaining olive oil. Serve the sauce on the side.

(Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury)

Smoky frittata

Scamorza affumicata (or smoked mozzarella) is the very delectable relative of mozzarella. It takes just one bite of a melt-in-your-mouth scamorza grilled sandwich or anything with this beautiful cheese in it to make you commit yourself to never being without it. I was introduced to scamorza by one of my best foodie friends when I was visiting her in Berlin. I was hooked instantly, but there was a bit of a long wait until I came across it again as it was a rarity when I was living in Oxford. Luckily, London has some great delis and specialist cheese shops so it wasn’t very hard to find! Scamorza doesn’t look very flattering—its large rounds of brown rind look rather like a deformed warted cheddar. Cut open it is silky, firm and creamy in texture. On the cheeseboard scamorza is delectable, but it is even more scrumcious melted on top of grilled courgettes or smoky peppers or just grilled on its own. When I came across this recipe in Plenty I instantly put a post-it note on the page, there rarely are any recipes including scamorza let alone my favourite cauliflower.

Smoky frittata

1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets

6 organic free-range eggs

5 Tablespoons crème fraîche

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

3 Tablespoons finely chopped chives

150g scamorza, grated (including the skin)

50g mature cheddar, grated

2 Tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Simmer the cauliflower in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 4–5 minutes, or until it is firm and just about cooked. Drain and leave to dry. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, adding the crème fraîche, mustard and paprika making sure all is well combined. Add the chives and three-quarters of the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive in a large cast-iron pan and fry the cauliflower for about 5 minutes. Make sure it is evenly golden brown all over. Pour over the egg mixture. Cook for 5 minutes.

Scatter the remaining cheeses on top and move the pan to the oven. Cook for 12–15 minutes or until the frittata looks like it is well set and golden on top. Remove from the oven and let settle for about 2-3 minutes before cutting into wedges.

(From Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, Ebury)