Butternut squash is a sweet, buttery vegetable that jumps on the circuit every autumn. Have you seen it? Although it looks like a giant peanut, it’s not a nut at all. Butternut squash is probably closer to pumpkin in colour and taste, but has the added bonus of not requiring a forklift to bring home from the supermarket (although pumpkin works equally well in this recipe).
Its amber flesh contains roaring amounts of beta-carotene, an easily absorbable and non-toxic form of vitamin A. One cup will ring in at a whopping 22,868IUs of this vitamin, trumping even the most sophisticated multivitamin pills.
Why does this excite me? Scientists agree that beta-carotene is required by our immune system to function optimally. It is the precursor to vitamin A. Clinic studies have shown that an increase in beta-carotene significantly improves our body’s ability to fight off pesky foreign invaders, especially when the snifflies are doing their rounds.
So pack this dynamo recipe into an empty container for lunch this winter. I use the dainty cardboard ones from my local deli counter. Please ask before stuffing the empty boxes into your shopping basket, or I’ll get blamed for promoting shoplifting. Another option would be to check out Bento boxes. You’ll save a fortune bringing in your own lunch this winter. I’m here to help you do that.
This dip was the hummiest dinger at a recent potluck party I attended. Everyone invited had to bring one dish, and thankfully it didn’t matter if it was a dessert, soup, dip or main course. Potluck parties are the perfect antidote to cash-strapped weeks, and glorious green cards for the unabashed gluttons among us. No-one goes home feeling ripped off.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 rough tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons tamari
Spot of ume dressing (lemon also works)
Drizzle of date syrup
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Sesame or pomegranate seeds to decorate
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Spread the chunks of squash out on a medium-sized baking tray, pour over olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Merrily toss it all together, cover the tray tightly with tinfoil, and roast for 1 hour. Do check it once or twice during cooking and shake the tray so the pieces cook evenly. Remove from oven and leave to cool.
Transfer cooled butternut to your food processor or whizzy machine, along with the tahini, ume, soya sauce, lick of date syrup and garlic. Pulse into a smooth hummus and spread over a flat plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, an arty swirl of treacly date syrup, and a dusting of pomegranate seeds. A little battalion of toasted rye sourdough and hungry toddlers are the perfect accompaniment.