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
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)