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Balti-Baked Squash with Feta, Tomato & Mint

Spicy can be a tricky word, but as a logophile I relish the use and definition of troublesome words. Spicy is usually interpreted in one of two ways, hot spicy and flavourful spicy. Going forward, I will try my best to always refer to spicy in the flavourful sense.

I love spice, it’s an easy way to add flavour and nutrition to food. While over at a friend’s house for lunch recently, I was introduced to a cookbook called The Indian Family Kitchen – Classic Dishes for a New Generation. The author offers up seasonal, vegetable-forward recipes that aim to coax flavours out of our favourite foods by using Indian spices. I was instantly attracted to the pictures and recipes, so I bought myself a copy and can’t wait to share the recipes with you!

So, prepare yourselves, because I will most likely be blogging a number of recipes in the near future that call for a variety of spices. But don’t worry, the list of spices in each recipe isn’t lengthy, like a lot of Indian recipes you might find on the internet. If like me, you’re interested in trying out some new flavours you might want to stock up your spice rack with some of the basics; coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, black pepper corns, chili powder, garam masala, cinnamon sticks, green cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, and saffron. These recipes are sure to delight your pallet and will be well wroth investing in a small collection of spices of your own.

This recipe is essentially a squash salad. I preferred it warm from the oven, but it also made tasty leftovers which I happily ate cold and at room temperature. It’s a perfect balance of tangy, salty, and sweet. Although serving it in a halved and hollowed out squash shell is a nice presentation, it’s a pain in the butt! Unless you really want to impress your dinner guests, just skip that step and serve it as a side dish, you won’t be missing out at all.

Balti-Baked Squash with Feta, Tomato & Mint

2 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp black peppercorns

½ crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp garam masala

1 Tbsp vegetable oil and light olive oil

1 cup spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1 ¾ oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp finely chopped mint

6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 440 F. Lay squash cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roughly crush the cumin and coriander seeds, peppercorns and red pepper flakes with a pestle and mortar before mixing in the garam masala and oil. Rub all over the squash, especially on the flesh side, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until you can put a knife through the flesh of the squash easily.

In the meantime, make the filling by mixing together the spinach, feta, garlic, mint, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon juice *keep the zest aside for later*

When the squash is soft, take out of the overn and scoop out nearly all of the flash, leaving a ½ inch boarder of flesh around the inside of each squash half. Mix the scooped-out squash with the filling an pup back into the grooves you just carved out. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and roast in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Serve with a delicious crisp salad.

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