For this dish I used the 'necks' of two really large Butternut squash, sliced into 1" or 2cm thick sections. This way each large squash gave me enough for 4-6 side dish servings. The recipe can also be made with small round squash, such as Jack be Little. With these you will need to remove any seeds before roasting.
I made two versions of this dish, in the first, I stuffed the sections of squash with a mixture of vegetable and spice and the second version I used the scooped out squash flesh and mixed it with mashed potatoes to make a crispy topping.
Included in this instructable is also a stand-alone recipe for one of the ingredients; 'oven-dred tomatoes'.
I always use organic ingredients and for salt I use our local sea salt.
Step 1: Preparing the Oven-dried Tomatoes
This idea started because at the end of the season and after rain we often get tomatoes that are heavier in water content than usual. These make great subjects for drying because in doing so you can bring back or even enhance the original tomato flavour and you can then freeze then very successfully. I keep a whole stock of these in the freezer to use in a whole host of dishes. Preserved like this the tomatoes can also be defrosted and used in salads as they hold their shape and taste fantastic (see first photo above).
I usually slice or halve my tomatoes depending on size and then dry them in the residual heat from our cooker, after I have cooked a meal or even, as we use a woodstove, leave them in overnight. The more watery varieties may need a prolonged drying out at a higher temperature of 180 °C or approx 360 °F. You will need to keep checking on them and that they are drying and not cooking. For very juicy tomatoes or the larger sections, as pictured above, you may need to pour off some liquid as otherwise your tomatoes will start to steam and become soft, rather than dry out. The liquid can be used in soups or as a vegetable stock and at the end of the drying process, the remaining herby oil in the pan makes a wonderful quick crostini, when spread on bread.
oil or melted butter for drizzling over the tomatoes
Your favourite mixed herbs, I use herbes de Provence which really compliments the flavour of the tomatoes.
Slice, halve or cut the tomatoes into chunks and place them on an oiled tray/pan, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs. Oven-dry as above.
Step 2: Roasting & Preparing the Squash
The necks of 2 large Butternut squashes or 5 - 6 small individual round squash,
5-6 medium boiled potatoes (suitable for mashing)
Butter or oil for greasing the cooking tin/pan/tray and for dotting on the squash.
Salt and pepper
Slice the neck of the squash into 1" or 2cm sections. If you are using small squash then cut these in half and scoop out the seeds
Place onto a buttered or oiled tray, dotted with butter or drizzled with oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Place into the middle of the oven at a temperature of approx 360 °F or 180 °C for around 30 minutes, when the squash should be soft (a fork should pierce it easily) and the skin crisp and beginning to brown.
Carefully scoop out the interior of the Butternut squash, removing just enough to make a shallow 'nest', approximately ½" or 1cm deep.
The squash flesh can now be added to potato and mashed together by hand with a potato masher.
Tip: It is better to mash by hand otherwise the mix can become too gluey if done by machine.
Step 3: Meanwhile Prepare the Stuffing
Whilst the squash is roasting the stuffing can be prepared.
2 large red bell peppers, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
Piment d'Espelette* or if you can not get this then Cayenne is very good in this dish. When using spices you should sprinkle and then taste to get the right amount of heat without overpowering the other ingredients.
6 medium to large slices of oven-dried tomatoes (see Step 1)
Salt and pepper
Butter or a suitable oil for cooking.
* in France it can be quite difficult to get hot spices but Piment d'Espelette comes from the Pays Basque. The Basque country spans the borders of France and Spain and its cookery is hot, colourful and powerful. One of the most famous dishes which uses this pimento is Piperade. I love this spice and am growing it in our greenhouse, so am looking forward to our first home-grown Espelette.
Sauté the garlic and onions together in the butter or oil for a few minutes until they begin to soften and then add the bell peppers and pimento. Continue on a low heat until they have broken down to create a stuffing that is moist but not wet.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the oven dried tomatoes.
Step 4: Stuffing the Squash Plus Topping
Preheat the oven to 220°C or 425°F
Add the stuffing to the roasted squash 'nests'. I used two dessert spoons of stuffing per nest.
Top with the mashed potato and squash mix.
Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes but check after five to make sure that the topping is browning and not burning as this is a hot oven.
If you decide just to keep it simple and less substantial, then just add the stuffing to the squash and return to the oven as set for for roasting (360 °F or 180 °C) and allow just 10 minutes for the flavours to meld together and for the squash to return to its roasted temperature.
We eat this as a side dish to accompany roast meat or fish.
For a vegetarian meal, you could provide two servings per person and accompany it with an endive/chicory and orange salad, dressed with sesame or olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with turmeric and paprika.
Runner Up in the
Side Dishes Challenge