Roasted Acorn Squash w Herb Oil & Avo Cream

PREP TIME: 20mins

COOKING TIME: 30mins

Autumn has arrived in Cape Town and so the arrival of some beautiful pumpkins! Acorn squash is a small winter squash with a green exterior and lovely sweet orange flesh in the inside.

The pumpkin is beautifully paired with zingy lime, creamy avo and punchy herbs. I love a bit of texture in a salad and have roasted the squash seeds, which I coated with some olive oil and five spice, until golden and crunchy.

The salad might appear quite ‘involved’ but it is really just chopping some herbs and blitzing some avo while your pumpkin is roasting.

Don’t bother with peeling your squash, if still relatively young, the skins will soften while roasting. If your squash is on the older side, you can peel them once roasted as they tend to get a bit ‘leathery’.

Seasonal Swops: you can butternut or larger pumpkin here. Swop out the herbs by adding your favourites. Basil and tarragon would be lovely additions too.

Getting Ahead: the pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can be roasted a few days before. The herb oil can be made ahead but it is best to leave the avo until you are ready to serve to prevent discolouration.

Serving Suggestion:

The salad is hearty on its own but the addition of some well seasoned quinoa would also go well so would giant couscous also called Israeli or pearled couscous.

Serves 4

 

What you'll need:

A large baking tray, a food processor if you want a smooth avo cream.

Herb Oil: If you don’t have a food processor you can just cut the herbs finely and mix with the oil.

Avo Cream: It might be difficult to get smooth avo cream without a food processor but a chunky one, like a guacamole would also be delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 acorn squash depending on size (1,2kg), flesh and seeds removed.
  • 1 teaspoon five spice (opt)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Herby Oil

  • 1 handful parsley
  • 2 handfuls coriander
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • zest of 1 lime
  • small squeeze lime juice to taste
  • salt & pepper

Lime & Avo Cream

  • 2 ripe avos (see note)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • pinch of salt

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Pumpkin Seeds: remove the fleshy bits from the pumpkin seeds and add to the wedges on the baking tray, these bits will become wonderfully crispy and caramelised.  Wash the seeds and dry with some kitchen towel. Sprinkle with some salt, add the five spice if using and a drizzle with olive oil. Add to a small baking sheet and bake alongside the wedges until golden, about 20 minutes.
  3. Slice the squash into wedges, add to a bowl, add some oil, salt and pepper, mix well. Tip onto your baking tray in a single layer and roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Carefully turn your squash half way through the cooking in order for both sides to get some colour.
  4. Herby oil: add the fresh herbs, oil, minced garlic, lime zest, juice and salt to a small food processor and whizz until you have a smooth oil. I like my herb oil to be a ‘drizzle’ consistency, so add oil and juice to achieve this. Taste and season.
  5. Avo Cream: Whizz all the ingredients together until you have a smooth creamy avocado cream. Season well.
  6. Once the squash is cooked, arrange the slices on a large plate. Drizzle over a generous amount of the herby oil followed by the toasted seeds and serve with the avo cream, either on the side or spooned over. A final sprinkle of sea salt flakes and a good grind of pepper is always a good idea.

Kitchen Notes:

April ‘bleah’ tasting avocados – signal end of life?

Avocados are available year round with January through March being the best time of year for flavour. It is during this time that the fruit has developed higher oil content, resulting in that buttery flavour and texture that we all love.

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