Autumn squash moutabal

 

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Returning to the UK a few weeks ago from my mediterranean travels was a bit of a chilly shock. The warm hug of eating a variety of delicious seasonal squash has made things that little bit easier. There are many varieties available, my favourites being onion, kabocha or crown prince. Their dense and sweet flesh is perfect for roasting in chunks and dressing with a sauce, eaten as part of a warm seasonal salad with some fresh greens and toasted nuts, mashed and stirred into a risotto, as a creamy soup or here as a luxurious and silky dip.  

Moutabal is an Arabic salad, typically made with eggplants, which are smoked over an open flame, roasted or barbecued and combined with onions, tahini, sometimes garlic, lemon and parsley. The recipe for the eggplant version can be found here Moutabal

My dad first introduced me to this lovely seasonal version of moutabal, replacing the eggplant with boiled pumpkin last year. It was deliciously decadent, creamy and rich. This is my tweaked version, roasting the squash to further bring out the caramelised and sweet flavours of the squash and create a lighter whipped texture and dressing the dip with crispy sage and chilli rather than the traditional parsley / olive oil combination.

Serves – 6 

Time – 45 minutes 

Utensils 

  • Baking tray
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan

Ingredients

750g squash (I like Kabocha or onion squash for this dip, but butternut or crown prince are also great)

1 leek

4 tbsp tahini

1/2 preserved lemon rind finely chopped

1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cumin seeds toasted and ground

To finish –

2 tbsp ghee ( or alternatively 2 tbsp butter or 3 tbsp olive oil)

1 tsp chill flakes

10 sage leaves

Method

  • Set the oven to fan 200 °C and preheat for 10 minutes
  • Slice your squash in half / quarters dependent on its size, rub with 2 tbsp olive and sprinkle on 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Roast in the oven flesh side up for approximately 30 minutes, until your squash is soft and a little browned around the edges
  • Meanwhile finely chop your leek and fry in the butter until soft and slightly golden.
  • When the squash is ready, scoop the squash from the skin with a spoon and place in your food processor with the leeks, tahini, preserved lemon, vinegar, lemon juice, the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt. Blitz until smooth and all the ingredients are well combined. Check for salt and add more (or not) to your taste.
  • Heat your chosen fat in the pan, add the chilli and the sage. Once the sage is crisp, turn off the heat. Please note with olive oil or butter that the heat should not be up too high or both will burn. Ghee can withstand high heat, so go wild.

To serve – spoon the squash puree into a bowl and drizzle liberally with the chilli ghee and sage. Good spooned straight into your mouth or with some bread.

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