The mere mention of Yuletide normally has me sweating sequins. I hate feeling like a week-old party balloon before Santa even arrives. So I prep my Christmas menu in advance, and massage my synapses with an extra large vermouth. Vegeterian favourites include dishes like Beet Bourguignon, and buckwheat blini & beluga lentils . These mushroom-based scallops are out of this world, and will rock December 25th for vegans and carnivores alike.
For my GF and vegan friends, you’ll find a recipe for irresistibly-easy Florentines here. And my wholefoodie Christmas Cake, using W.B.Yeats’ favourite tea lapsang Souchong and the genius of Amy Chaplin.
This year, we’re doing Hassleback Squash (below) covered with festive pomegranate seeds and extra pecans. It works both as a side to the turkey, or as a centerpiece for vegans /vegetarian tables.
1 butternut squash, preferably organic
1 teaspoon of olive oil
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 fat clove garlic, grated
Good handful of pecans or walnuts
Flaky sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper
1. Fire up your oven to 190-200C. Peel the squash using a potato peeler and long strokes. This is easier than it looks and sounds! (Organic squash skins tend to be thinner and have considerably less chemical coating).
2. Carefully cut the squash in half, lengthways. Scoop out and compost the inner nest of seeds.
3. Rub oil all over your hands and each half. Pop each half onto a large roasting tray, cut side down, and cook in your preheated oven for 20 minutes only. You don’t want the squash to be too soft to cut.
4. Remove the squash from your oven, and carefully transfer each half onto a chopping board. Place wooden spoons either side of the squash half (I’ll show you this in the cookery class). You’ll need to find wooden spoons with similar width handles, but use whatever you have! Chopsticks work beautifully too.
5. Slice the squash from top to toe, all the way to the wooden handles (this will stop the blade cutting right through the butternut and falling apart). Take a peek at the picture, which will give you a good idea.
6. Tuck in tufts of fresh rosemary, followed by butter or olive oil mixed with grated garlic. You’ll need a good few cracks of the salt and black pepper mill too. Bake until the squash begins to colour on top (15 mins). Then parachute over your nuts, and return to the oven to bake a further 5-8 minutes. If you want to sprinkle some brown sugar over the nuts, or dried cranberries, I’m not going to stop you!
7. Serve in the baking tray/dish, resting on a chopping board to protect your table. Go ahead and pile Brussel sprouts around it, or whatever else is on your Christmas menu.