Posts tagged ‘butternut’

January 28, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Sweet Potato and Chickpea Soup ‘Berbere’

What a cold winter’s night really needs, of course, is a warming bowl of nutritious soup. This one was made after a rummage through the fridge and kitchen cupboards. We had some sweet potato that wasn’t long for this world, a tin of chickpeas, an onion, spices… and that’s all you need.

Now, we’ve often made a sweet potato and chickpea soup, or a butternut squash and chickpea soup and, usually, we spice it up with a little chilli and some cumin. But I’m bored of it: the cumin so often overpowers if it’s the dominant spice… and this was the thought in my mind as my eyes set upon a tin of ready-mixed ‘Berbere’ spice (widely available, just like this here that we picked up in the supermarket).

Berbere refers to the Berber peoples of North Africa. I’ve always associated Berbere spices with Morocco, having visited that country, but a little research reveals that the mix of spices including chilli, cumin, coriander seed, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, plus varying others, as well as the term Berbere, is recognisable in Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali cuisines. The exact origin, and infinite variations, could no doubt be argued over for longer than it would take the IMF to do the right thing and cancel African debt, so let’s just say that it’s fiery, with some sweeter notes than you might get in Indian spice mixes.

To the soup: it’s one-pot stuff. In a large saucepan or stockpot, saute a finely chopped onion in a little olive oil for 5 minutes. Add a clove of finely chopped garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. While it’s cooking, peel two large-ish sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks and add to the pot. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Next add one tin of chickpeas. Then add the Berbere spice mix. We added a heavily loaded dessert-spoonful. You might want to add less – it’ll be fine. Chilli addicts could also add one fresh red chilli. Stir in and then add around 500ml of vegetable stock – maybe a little more depending on the size of your potatoes. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat, leave to cool until lukewarm then blitz it with a hand blender. Don’t overdo it though, it’s best if the soup is a little coarse. Reheat, season with salt and pepper and serve, perhaps with some crusty bread.

It warms the cockles, this one.

September 13, 2011

Recipe: Squash and Cider Soup

We almost – almost – had a butternut squash soup for last night’s dinner. It didn’t happen in the end, in part because I wanted a squash soup with a twist and something that didn’t feel too wintery (it’s not yet mid-September, whatever the wind is telling me as it rattles the windows and blows dark grey clouds across the creek).

This Squash and Cider Soup, here, from the New York Times, would have been perfect (and yes, that’s what I was thinking: it does seem a particularly English, Septembery soup for a US publication).

As the serving suggestion recommends, I think this would make a lovely lunchtime soup in a mug. We don’t do enough of that.

July 2, 2011

Recipe: Anjum Anand’s Bengali butternut squash with chickpeas

Saturday morning and we just watched Anjum Anand cook Bengali butternut squash with chickpeas on one of the repeat sections on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. It’s been a while since we used butternut squash in a curry. Maybe it’s time to put that right.

The recipe is here.

June 26, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Broccoli, Squash and Goat’s Cheese Salad

Friday 10 June

Something of a ‘superfood’ salad this, and a fallback for us on many an occasion. Oh and yes, you’re right, there’s a beetroot version of this somewhere in the lush green hinterland of this blog. Search it out.

We roast small chunks of butternut squash, lightly steam some broccoli, let it all cool and mix together with leaves, goat’s cheese and some toasted seeds. Or you could toast some walnuts or almonds instead. Oh and add a little olive oil, garlic and lemon juice dressing. That’s it. Go, make.

April 17, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Rainbow salad

Saturday 16 April

Ella’s rainbow salad is a big bowl of nutrition. It looks nutritious, tastes nutritious. It’s a robust thing too – and something of a pick-me-up. And it looks so lovely with the purples and oranges peeking through the green.

The main part of the preparation is in roasting some beetroot and squash. We peel and chop a couple of beetroot into 2cm chunks, then do the same with half (or so) a butternut squash. Place the chunks in separate roasting trays. Sprinkle a little sea salt, black pepper and a teaspoon of ground cumin over each tray of veg, drizzle some olive oil over it and then use your hands to coat the veg with the seasoning and spice. To each tray, add a couple of cloves of garlic with their skins left on. Roast at 190 degrees or so until soft and slightly caramelised. When done, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

As the veg is finishing cooking, steam some florets of broccoli for around 5 minutes until just about al dente but not soft. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

Put the broccoli, beetroot and squash in a large salad bowl and add a small bag of rocket. Crumble over some creamy goats cheese. We then make a simple dressing using olive oil, a squeeze of lemon imbued for a few minutes with the roasted garlic cloves (slipped out of their skins). Mix it all together.

Some toasted seeds – sesame, sunflower etc – are also a nice finishing touch and the salad should be served at room temperature or ever so slightly warm, certainly not cold.