We are entering that strange time of year that is the limbo between summer and autumn. Technically it is still summer (just) but it is cold and wet and windy. I haven’t let go of the need for bright, cheerful summer food but I want something warming. I need something light and yet also substantial. It seems like a tall order but this lovely vegetarian dish does all of those things and more.
Soft, yellow butternut squash is proper autumn food. Roasted like this it needs to be eaten properly, at a table, with a knife and fork. It is filling and satisfying yet avoids being winter heavy. Fill it with jewel bright peppers, the last of the summer tomatoes, a few green spinach leaves and the soft crunch of pine nuts and it brings its own sunshine to the table. Add chewy, squeaky chunks of halloumi and it is food fit for any table.
I have left this recipe deliberately simple but you could add some basil and a little paprika if you feel it needs more flavour. Or try it with feta rather than halloumi if you fancy a change.
1 Small/Medium Butternut Squash
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic
10 Cherry or Mini Plum Tomatoes
2 Generous handsful of Baby Spinach Leaves
A Small Handful of Pine Nuts (Kernels)
1/2 Pack Halloumi
3- 4 tsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4
Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out all the seeds. Make a few deep slashes in the flesh of the narrow end of the squash.
Brush the cut surface with a little olive oil and season well with salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Place in a tin and roast for approximately 45 minutes (depending on the size of your squash) until tender all the way through.
Meanwhile cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and cut into fairly wide slices. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Toss both together in the remaining olive oil and place in a small roasting tin. Once the squash has been in the oven for 20 minutes put the peppers in too.
After a further 10 minutes halve the tomatoes and add to the tin with the peppers.
Once all the vegetables are cooked heat a non-stick frying pan on the hob, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Slice the halloumi into 4, lengthways, and fry ech slice gently until both sides are golden brown.
Whilst the cheese is frying remove the vegetables from the oven and put the squash onto a serving plate. Stir the spinach into the peppers and tomatoes and cover with a clean, dry tea towel so that the spinach wilts but holds some structure.
Remove the cheese and put the pine nuts into the pan, cook gently until golden brown. Slice the halloumi into strips or triangles. Divide the roasted vegetable mix between the two squash, poke pieces of halloumi into the vegetables and sprinkle the pine nuts over the top to serve. Season with a little more pepper but go easy with the salt as the halloumi is already quite salty.