It’s cold outside at the moment, really cold. Today, even with the heating going full blast, I needed to feel cosy. I was plenty warm enough – at the last count I had four layers on, but just a peep out of the windows at the grey sky and the gently swaying, bare branches of the trees makes you feel the need to hunker down. To top it all, as I was looking out of the window, it started to drizzle.
So I decided it was a baked squash day. A plate of silky smooth, fragrant, hot from the oven squash and a freshly baked, wholemeal roll spread with just a little butter, all washed down with a glass of red wine – it sounded good to me.
And this is what I created. I kept the squash chunky on purpose as I think it works well. Unless your baking tray is fantastically non-stick, small cubes of baked sweet potato often break up when you remove them. As a result you’re left with a mush, and I don’t want to eat mush. I’m guessing you don’t either?! With these big wedges, you can get away with losing a little of your squash to the pan. And a big wedge feels more satisfying somehow. I’m not sure why, but it does.
I’ve photographed these on their own as that is how I am eating them today. It makes a very respectable lunch with the aforementioned roll and wine. These wedges also work beautifully as a lovely side dish alongside meat or fish and are great pureed with some sautéed onion, and vegetable or chicken stock, as a warming soup.
However, one of my favourite ways to eat these wedges of loveliness is mixed with a large handful of lamb’s lettuce, baby spinach or rocket dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then scattered with toasted pine nuts. If you’re feeling really decadent you can dry fry a few small cubes of halloumi and scatter these over the top making this dish into a delicious starter or a very respectable vegetarian main, which I know you will love.
Baked Squash with Garlic and Thyme
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 7-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- Now you need to peel the squash. I find that using a large, really sharp knife helps here. Cut the top and bottom off the squash then cut it in half horizontally. Slice the skin from the squash, cutting from top to bottom, working round each half of the squash. Once the squash is peeled, cut each piece in half again, this time vertically. Remove the seeds from the bottom halves and cut each piece into 6-7 wedges.
- Place the squash wedges in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Place the squash on a non-stick baking tray, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Now remove the foil, loosen any pieces of squash that have stuck to the baking sheet and bake for a further 10-20 minutes until the squash is soft and slightly caramelised at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and serve.