Butternut squash boats stuffed with cous cous and feta

The sweet, soft roasted butternut squash and red pepper are juxtaposed by the sharp taste of the crumbly feta.  Combined with the filling and flavoursome cous cous, this dish makes for a healthy and hearty vegetarian dinner. 

This meal idea is based on a BBC Good Food recipe, substituting quinoa for cous cous. It’s not the speediest of dishes to prepare, as the butternut squash needs roasting for some time before being stuffed with the other ingredients, so it’d be best to make this on the weekend, or when you’re not strapped for time.

Stuffed butternut squash with grilled asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 100g feta, cut into cubes
  • 1 100g packet of instant cous cous (I used Ainsley Harriott’s Sundried Tomato & Garlic flavour)
  • 8 asparagus spears, or another green vegetable of your choice.
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small squares
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Low fat cooking spray (some more olive oil will do if you don’t have any of this)

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Turn the oven on to gas mark 6.

2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and score the flesh diagonally, both ways. Sprinkle the sage over both halves, pop them on a baking tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh has softened.

3. Meanwhile, get the filling ready. Prepare the cous cous as per the packet’s instructions (usually pour into a bowl and pour boiling water over so it covers the grains, leaving some extra liquid to be soaked up. Stir well and leave for five minutes). When the grains have absorbed the water, fluff them up with a fork, and pour over the majority of the lemon juice, holding a little back, and drizzle over a little bit of olive oil. Mix the liquids in, so the cous cous remains fluffy and doesn’t dry out.

4. After 30 minutes, take the baking tray out of the oven and carefully place the chopped pepper at the side of the tray. Sprinkle half the rosemary over the pepper and pop back in the oven for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, put the grill on to a medium to high heat. Chop off the bottom ends of the asparagus spears and place on a baking tray. Spray five or six times with the cooking spray, season and place under the grill for 10 minutes, or until nicely brown, turning them every now and again with some tongs or a fork.

6. When the squash and peppers are cooked, take them out of the oven. Tip the peppers into a bowl with the cous cous, spring onions, feta, carrot, and the remaining rosemary and lemon juice. Stir and season well.

7. Press the cous cous filling onto the squash with a metal spoon, and pile it as high as you can! I found that I had some filling leftover, and you could always serve this on the side so it doesn’t go to waste.

8. When you’re ready, put the squash back in the oven for 10 minutes, to allow the cous cous and the feta to begin to golden.

9. Take the asparagus out of the oven and serve neatly on the side of a large plate.

10. Take the squash out of the oven and place it carefully (so the cous cous doesn’t spill out all over the place) on the plate.

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Butternut squash and chickpea stew

This hearty vegan stew will warm your cockles on a cold, dark day. The unusual mixture of spices and healthy pulses and grains will surprise and satisfy those taste buds.

Butternut squash is without a doubt one of my favourite vegetables: its orange colouring is wonderfully vibrant, it’s very versatile, tastes deliciously sweet with a satisfying soft texture and goes well with a range of herbs and spices. The only downside is that preparing one can be rather labour intensive, so don’t go hacking into a squash when you’re after a speedy meal.

This dish is based on one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes from his brilliant vegetarian cookbook, River Cottage Veg. The spices and the variety of textures are really what make this a great concoction. The squash, chickpeas and orzo work well together and the mixture of coriander, cinnamon and turmeric inject strong, spicy flavours.

 Butternut squash and chickpea stew

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp dried coriander
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 150g butternut squash or pumpkin, cut into large cubes
  • 250g chickpeas
  • 50g split red lentils
  • 600g vegetable stock
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g orzo

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
Serves 3

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok (I often opt for a wok) on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry until soft, stirring frequently.

2. Reduce the heat slightly and add in the celery, garlic and all of the spices, along with the black pepper, and stir in with the onions until well mixed.

3. Turn the heat back up to medium. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and lentils, and stir all of the ingredients in together. Cover and allow to cook for five minutes, so the liquids are infused with the spices.

4. Next, add in the squash, pour in the stock and stir in thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients.

5. Cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

6. After 25 minutes, stir in the orzo. Continue with the simmering until the orzo is soft and the lentils have fully absorbed the juices.

7. Season well and serve in large bowls.