An abundance of butternut squash from my garden crops encouraged me to come up with some new tricks to help me work my way through eating them all whilst keeping them interesting. This Persian inspired dish is probably my favourite creation from that winter and is the ultimate seasonal comfort food. Combining flavours and ingredients from the Middle East, and pairing it with our seasonal squash, brings a warm and grounding meal that surprisingly tastes a lot like Christmas. This dish is perfect for homely, long, dark nights and for guests who you wish to feel loved and nourished.
This dish incorporates 2 previous recipes I have posted; Za’atar Spice Blend and Pistachio & Pumpkin Seed Pesto.
Serves 2 – 3 as a main course, 4 as a side dish.
- 1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthways and deseeded
- Olive oil
- Sea salt flakes and coarse ground black pepper
FOR THE ZA’ATAR TOFU
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
- 400g block Firm tofu – drained and crumbled into chunky pieces
- Za’atar Spice Blend
- 1 tsp mild Aleppo chilli flakes
- 1 batch of Pistachio & Pumpkin Seed Pesto
- 100g pomegranate seeds or 1 pomegranate seeded (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
- Prepare the squash. With a sharp knife score a crisscross shape on the fleshy parts of the squash. Rub each wedge with olive oil and season generously with sea salt and black pepper, massaging it into the crisscross grooves.
- Place the squash on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and roast in the oven for about 50 mins, until the edges have started to blacken and char slightly. Check if the squash is cooked through by putting a sharp knife into the middle: it should slide in smoothly. If you feel any resistance then put the squash back in the oven for a bit longer.
- Whilst the squash is baking prepare the za’atar spice blend and the pistachio and pumpkin seed pesto according to their recipes. Deseed the pomegranate if using.
- When the squash is cooked, turn off the oven. Keep the squash inside to keep warm while you prepare the tofu.
- In a large frying pan or skillet heat a good drizzle of olive oil. Add the garlic briefly until it starts to sizzle, but be careful not to burn it.
- Add the crumbled tofu and fry, mixing occasionally until the tofu becomes slightly browned and firmer. You may need to keep scraping crumbles off the pan and mixing it in. This usually takes about ten minutes to cook, but be your own judge.
- Once the scrambled tofu is cooked, remove from the heat and add the Za’atar & chilli flakes. Stir to combine.
- Place the squash on dinner plates and top with the tofu mix, add generous dollops of the pesto then sprinkle each dish with the pomegranate seeds to finish.