Friday, October 23, 2009

Absolutely beautiful butternut squash bruschetta

Maybe you are thinking, bruschetta and... butternut squash? But trust me, this is easily one of the most perfect things I have ever made. This bruschetta has everything: sweetness from the squash, raisins, and caramelized onions; sourness from two kinds of vinegar; creaminess from pinenuts; and loads of flavor from coriander, hot red chilli, garlic, thyme, and parsley.

Once again, hats off to Mr. Jamie Oliver.

Here are the basics of the recipe. First, you prep. Next, you steam the squash (with loads of flavor). Then, you saute the squash (with loads more flavor). That's it.

For the squash: peel it, halve it, and deseed it.
Then, cut it into finger-sized pieces. At the end, you want the squash to keep its shape, so don't cut the pieces too small.
Then, cut up the onions into fine slices.
For the next step... drum roll please... I used a mortar and pestle for the first time ever! I bought a lovely mortar and pestle months and months ago, but have been too timid to use it. So, when this recipe called for coriander seeds bashed up in a mortar and pestle, I knew I had to be brave.
Turns out, bashing things up in a mortar and pestle is so easy and so fun, that I had nothing to worry about at all. Not to mention it is an amazing way to get flavor in recipes. I feel like a whole world has just opened up to me.
Now, time to cook this beautiful squash. Add some olive oil to a pan, let that heat up, then add in the squash, onions, bashed-up coriander seeds, a dried red chilli, and a "wine glass" of water. Cover it, and let that simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and wait for the liquid to evaporate. Once it has, then you can start browning the squash pieces. So throw in some salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic, and get it going.
Once the squash is lightly golden, time for more flavor! Add in raisins, parsley stalks, and pinenuts.
After that has married together for a minute or so, time for even more flavor: splash in some balsamic and white wine vinegars, and sprinkle in some sugar. This gives everything a really nice, sweet glaze. Throw in some parsley, and you are done.
Garnish with some parsley and freshly grated Parmesan (the saltiness is a really nice touch). Serve it warm or cold alongside some crostini (and maybe even some mozzarella!).
And there you go: absolutely beautiful butternut squash bruschetta!

Super sweet and sour squash (from Cook with Jamie)
serves 4

1 medium (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved, and deseeded
Olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, bashed in a mortar and pestle
1 dried red chilli
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced (or 2 if they are small)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a glass of water (I think this is 4-5 ounces)*
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
a handful of raisins
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped, stalks finely chopped
a handful of pinenuts
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
parlsey, for garnish
Parmesan, for garnish

crostini (optional)

Cut the squash into finger-sized pieces. Add a good glug of olive oil (about 2 Tbs) to a Dutch oven and heat it up. Then add the coriander seeds, chilli (crushed up), squash, onion, and a wineglass of water and put the lid on the pan. Cook for around 10 minutes, then remove the lid. The water will cook away and everything in the pan will soften.

You can now begin to fry again. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper, the garlic, and thyme. Fry on a medium to low heart, slowly but surely cooking the squash through until it begins to turn a light golden color. At this point add the raisins, parsley stalks, and pinenuts. Fry for another minute or so, then add the two types of vinegar and the sugar. Fry for a final 3 or 4 minutes, this is enough time to cook the harshness of the vinegar away and the sugar will give it a sweet glaze. Check the seasoning one more time and adjust if need be. Stir through the parsley leaves.

Serve immediately, or wait until the next day. Garnish with parsley and some Parmesan. Serve with crostini, with salads, or as a side dish.

*A note on Jamie Oliver-ese: a "wine glass" of water is amazingly ambiguous. Does he mean a whole entire wine glass full of water? Does he mean the amount of liquid in a regular glass of wine? While I went with the entire wine glass full of water this time, it was way too much. Lesson learned: when Mr. Oliver calls for a 'wine glass', I think he means 4-5 ounces (1/2-2/3 cups), which is equal to one serving of wine.

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