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Squash With Chile Yogurt & Cilantro Sauce

In the dead of winter this dish provides the fresh flavour and colourful abundance that my soul craves. It is no surprise that it tastes like something you’d get in a high-quality restaurant, as it comes from none other than Ottolenghi. He has a number of beautifully crafted cook books, including, Plenty More, where this recipe can be found.

If you’re not into cilantro try swapping for your favorite fresh, soft herb of choice (mint, parsley, tarragon, or a mix). The genius trick in this recipe is that you do not peel the squash. Yeah! Exciting. The texture of the slightly chewy, slightly crispy skin adds a pleasant element to the dish that is not to be missed. Though, if your squash has seen better days or is extremely difficult to carve through, it is probably best to peel the squash first.

Squash With Chile Yogurt & Cilantro Sauce

1 large butternut squash (3 pounds or 1.4 kilograms)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

6 Tbsp olive oil

1 3/4 ounces (50 grams) cilantro, leaves and stems, plus extra leaves for garnish

1 small clove garlic, crushed

scant 2 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 1/2 tsp Sriracha or another savory chile sauce

Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 425º F.

Wash the squash skin well, cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds, and then cut into wedges 3/4 inch wide and about 2 3/4 inches long, leaving the skin on. Place in a large bowl with the cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a good grind of pepper. Mix well so that the squash is evenly coated. Place the squash, skin side down if possible, on 2 baking sheets and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until soft and starting to color on top. (If they topple over and don't stay skin side down, don't worry.) Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the herb paste, place the cilantro, garlic, the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, and a generous pinch of salt in the bowl of a small food processor, blitz to form a fine paste, and set aside. (If you don’t have a small food processor, a mortar and pestle will work, or consider doubling the amounts to make in a large food processor and save any extra sauce for other uses.)

Turn down the oven temperature to 350º F. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. The outer skin will pop open and the seeds will become light and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When you are ready to serve, swirl together the yogurt and Sriracha sauce. (Yogurt’s thicknesses will vary so feel free to adjust the consistency to your liking with a splash of olive oil or water.) Lay the squash wedges on a platter and dollop or drizzle the spicy yogurt sauce and then the herb paste over the top (you can also swirl the yogurt sauce and herb paste together, if you like). Scatter the pumpkin seeds on top, followed by the extra cilantro leaves, and serve.

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