Alexandra Dudley’s roast squash with white-bean mash

Our recipe columnist shares a hearty vegetarian dish that’s perfect for autumn evenings

Photographs by Alexandra Dudley

I adore squash season – there are so many varieties and colours. I usually buy a whole basket of different types and keep them in a large bowl in my kitchen as an autumnal centrepiece; they look fabulous and last a while too. One of my favourites is acorn squash. Usually dark-green in skin, it has a bright yellowy flesh that becomes sweet and nutty when roasted, and it caramelises beautifully.

This is a wonderful dinner-party dish that doubles up as delicious leftovers. The white-bean mash is zesty and flavoursome, using three types of herbs. You could also enjoy it as a dip or spread on toast. When it comes to making the butter, I like to be generous with the pistachios; marrying them with the mint and chilli gives a rich, crunchy finish.

Roast acorn squash on herbed white-bean mash with chilli, mint and pistachio butter

Ingredients

2 small acorn squash (or 1 larger one)
230g dried cannellini beans, soaked in cold water overnight
2 bay leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the butter:

40g unsalted butter
1 garlic clove
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sea salt
30g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tsp mint leaves, finely chopped

Method

Drain your soaked cannellini beans and place them in a large saucepan. Cover them with a large amount of water. Add the bay leaves and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil before reducing to a gentle simmer. Cook for 1 to 1.5 hours. (The cooking time will depend on your beans, so check them after an hour.)

When your beans are cooked, drain them over a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Remove the bay leaves and allow the beans to cool slightly.

Crush a garlic clove and place in a blender or food processor. Add the beans, chopped herbs, lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of the reserved bean cooking liquid, a good pinch of salt and a good glug of olive oil. Blend and check for seasoning, adding more lemon, salt or oil as you like. If it is too thick, continue to add some of the bean cooking liquid.

Preheat the oven to 200°C on the fan setting. Halve your squash and scoop out the seeds (see note*). Cutting along its natural ridges, slice the squash into wedges.

Place the squash wedges onto a tray. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season well with salt. Use your hands to toss everything together. Cook for 40 minutes until the squash has cooked through and is slightly caramelised. Turn the pieces every 15 minutes or so to ensure they get an even roast.

To make the chilli, mint and pistachio butter, heat a small saucepan over a low to medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Crush a garlic clove and add this to the oil. Cook until softened and fragrant (about 2 to 3 minutes). Stir in the chilli flakes and salt. Add the butter and allow it to melt, stirring gently.

Once the butter has melted, add the chopped pistachios and continue to stir for another minute or so. Taste for seasoning. You may need to adjust the temperature to ensure the butter does not burn. Switch off the heat and stir though the chopped mint.

To serve, spoon the bean purée onto a large serving plate. Arrange the roasted squash on top. Spoon over the chilli, mint and pistachio butter and finish with a pinch of flaky sea salt.

*Note: Rather than discarding your squash seeds, rinse them and remove as much pulp as you can. Allow them to dry slightly on a clean dishcloth. Preheat your oven to 180°C on the fan setting. Place the dry seeds in a small bowl and combine with ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Stir and spread over a parchment-lined tray. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes until crunchy. Enjoy sprinkled onto salads, soup or as a snack.

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