I'm here, I'm here! I've just been in a book-finishing tunnel for the past 6 weeks, recipe testing like a house on fire and finishing up the writing of the German baking book. I still have about 3 days of work to cram into the next 24 hours, so I'm not entirely ready to bust out the champagne just yet, but I am ready to start making something other than cake again.
We've been subsisting on the simplest food in this phase, because I just can't face spending any more time than I already do in the kitchen. So it's been a lot of pastas and simple sauces, steamed fish and boiled vegetables, you know, and every once in a while, my mother shows up with a pot of soup or some roast chicken and I don't have to cook at all. Mothers!
Yesterday, though, with Max and Hugo off at friends' for the umpteenth time in the past month (sob) and me growing square-eyed in front of the computer, I just couldn't handle another sad, solo cheese sandwich. So I made this gorgeous-looking mess, cutting every possible corner I could have possibly cut, and had one of the best meals I've had in a while.
It's an Ottolenghi recipe, from his new book, so you know it's insanely fussy. If you follow all the steps, though, I'm sure it's insanely good. If you are a lazy, lazy lazybones like me, whacking both squash and tomatoes in the oven at the same time, at the same temperature (insert horrified face emoji), squeezing lime juice and dolloping yogurt over the plate instead of making a nice little sauce, running out to the balcony for basil and hacking that up instead of using fresh cilantro and skipping all the other doodads (ground cardamom! roasted cashews! fried onions!) that make this dish restaurant-worthy, the good thing is that it is still REALLY GOOD. And sometimes REALLY GOOD is enough.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
6 plum tomatoes, halved
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 small red chili, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup/120 grams plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 organic lime
Handful fresh cilantro or basil leaves
2 tablespoons roasted, chopped cashews
1 tablespoon fried shallots, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 465 F/240 C. Cut the squash in 1-inch slices and toss with two tablespoons of the oil, two teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Spread out on a large, parchment-lined baking tray and roast for 35-40 minutes, until golden-brown. Set aside to cool.
2. Turn down the oven to 340 F/170 C. Put the tomato halves skin-side down on a parchment-lined baking tray, sprinkle with a quarter teaspoon of salt, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and roast for 80 minutes, until softened.
3. Put the ginger, chilli, garlic, sugar and a quarter teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Mix to a paste, then spoon on top of the tomatoes and cook for 40 minutes more, until caramelized, then set aside to cool.
4. Put all the ingredients for the lime yoghurt in a small bowl, add half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, mix well and put in the fridge until ready to serve.
5. Spread out the squash on a large platter and arrange the tomatoes in between. Drizzle over the yoghurt, sprinkle over the cilantro, cashews and shallots, if using, and serve.