A few times a week I like to cook a vegetarian meal and just because there’s no meat most certainly does not mean that it has to be boring!  This recipe by Yottam Ottolenghi is one of my favourites.  Be sure to use the correct squash though, summer squash can be slightly watery, whereas the winter variety is firmer and holds their shape better during the cooking process.

You might find the additional technique of roasting the butternut after braising a bit time-consuming but it is absolutely worth it!  During the braising process, the squash absorbs all the flavours and the roasting just allows a delicious caramelised finish.  I kept to the whole vegetarian theme tonight by making couscous with loads of freshly chopped herbs and pomegranate seeds.

Bon appetit!

You’ll need

  • 60ml x olive oil
  • 3 x shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp x ground cumin
  • 4 x whole cardamom pods, crushed to release the seeds, pods discarded
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2½ Tbsp x harissa paste
  • ½ tsp x rose water
  • 500ml x vegetable stock
  • 1 x large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 4cm dice (800g)
  • 400g x tinned cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 7 x dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 20g x preserved lemon skin, roughly chopped
  • 10g x coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 150g x Greek yoghurt


  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a large saute pan for which you have a lid, heat two tablespoons of oil on a medium-high heat.
  3. Add the shallots and stirring every so often, until soft and caramelised, then stir in the garlic, spices, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, and fry for two minutes longer.
  4. Add the harissa, rose water, stock and 200ml water, bring to a boil, then lay in the squash pieces in a single flat layer.
  5. Turn down the heat to medium, cover and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until almost cooked through.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the squash to a medium bowl, using a slotted spoon. Add two tablespoons of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some pepper to the bowl, mix to coat, then spread out the squash on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 20 minutes, until golden-brown and cooked through.
  7. While the squash is roasting, tip the chickpeas, apricots and preserved lemon into the stock left in the pan, bring to a boil on a medium-high heat and cook until the sauce reduces a little and becomes thick and rich. While they’re cooking, crush a few chickpeas with the back of a spoon, to thicken the mix further.
  8. To serve, divide the squash between individual bowls and spoon over the chickpea sauce. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve immediately with some yoghurt alongside.

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