Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for butternut squash (2024)

The sunset colours of autumn are markers of change, and that makes me very happy. There is something dynamic and invigorating about the transitional nature of the season – the idea that you can be in two different places at the same time, looking back fondly at the one and forward in anticipation to the other. I like this change in colour palette to happen on the plate, too, and incorporate all things orange into my meals. Sweet-fleshed butternut is a perennial favourite. This pear-shaped squash is delicate enough to straddle the line between sweet and savoury in the most graceful way, mirroring the change in the air.

Butternut squash with orange oil and burnt honey (pictured above)

I love the autumnal combination of squash, orange and hard herbs, and this take on the theme is especially fresh. Blitzing orange zest into olive oil is a quick way to infuse it without having to heat it up or wait very long. The oil is also lovely on salads, roast veg or fruit and yoghurt, so make double if you want and keep in a sealed jar.

Prep 15 min
Infuse 20-60 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4 as a starter or side

1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in half lengthways, deseeded and cut into 1cm-thick half-moons (900g net weight)
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and black pepper
1½ tbsp runny honey
1½ tsp cider vinegar
40g pecorino, cut into ¼cm-thick shards
1½ tbsp oregano leaves, picked with some stem attached
20g pumpkin seeds, toasted

For the orange-infused oil
2 oranges
45ml olive oil

Heat the oven to its highest setting, or 240C fan. For the oil, finely shave strips of zest off the oranges, avoiding any pith, until you have 15g, then roughly chop. Put this in the small bowl of a food processor, add the oil and blitz for a minute, until the peel is finely chopped. Pour into a bowl, leave to infuse for 20 minutes to an hour, then strain through a fine sieve and discard the solids.

Peel and segment the oranges over a sieve placed over a bowl, to catch the juice, then set aside the segments and a tablespoon of juice for the dressing.

Put the squash, oil, nutmeg, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper in a large bowl, and toss to coat. Divide between two oven trays lined with baking paper – make sure the squash does not overlap – then bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway, until cooked through and nicely browned. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, put the honey in a small frying pan on a medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, leave to bubble for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep brown caramel, then take off the heat and stir in the orange segments, the reserved tablespoon of juice and the vinegar, and set aside to cool a little.

Arrange the squash and pecorino on a platter, overlapping the squash slightly, pour over the burnt honey dressing, and scatter over the oregano and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle over the infused oil, and serve.

Butternut squash, feta and sage filo pie

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for butternut squash (1)

There’s a bit of waiting involved in this very festive pie, what with the slow caramelisation of the onions and the baking itself. If you want to get ahead, prepare the filling a day ahead, leaving you with a quick assembly job and bake when you want to serve the pie. Serve warm or at room temperature with a side salad.

Prep 20 min
Cook 2 hr 5 min
Serves 6

10 sheets filo pastry (ie, a 250g packet)
90g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
30g caster sugar
1 tbsp icing sugar, to dust

For the filling
60ml olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved and cut into ½cm-thick slices
Salt and black pepper
5g sage leaves, finely chopped
10g parsley, roughly chopped
150g feta, roughly crumbled
2 tsp lemon zest
½ butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, deseeded and then cut into 1½cm-thick half-moons (650g net weight)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7, and grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin.

Put two tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, turn down the heat to medium, add the onions and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and nicely caramelised – about 40 minutes; don’t be tempted to skimp on the time, because it’s crucial to get the onions to the right point. Off the heat, stir in the herbs, feta, lemon zest, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper.

Meanwhile, line a large oven tray with baking paper, put the butternut squash, cinnamon, remaining two tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper on top, then toss with your hands to coat. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the squash once halfway, or until cooked through and lightly coloured.

Turn down the oven to 190C (170C fan)/335F/gas 5. Put the filo sheets under a slightly damp, clean cloth. Take out one sheet, brush it all over with melted butter and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of caster sugar. Transfer to the prepared cake tin, pressing it into the base and letting any excess hang over the sides. Repeat with four more sheets of filo, rotating each one slightly, so the excess pastry hangs out at a different angle each time.

Lay the squash in the base of the pie, overlapping them slightly, then top with the onions, pushing them down to compress the filling mixture.

Take another sheet of filo, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of caster sugar. Roughly scrunch it up like a tissue, then arrange on top of the exposed filling. Repeat with the remaining four sheets of filo, to cover the filling completely, then fold in all the overhang, scrunching it up as you do so.

Lift the tin on to an oven tray, then bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, use a tea towel to release the tin, then lift off the outer ring and baking paper (leaving the pie on the base), and return to the oven for 20 minutes more, or until browned and caramelised all over. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for about 15 minutes, then transfer the pie to a plate or board, and dust all over with the icing sugar just before serving.

Five-spice butternut squash fritters

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for butternut squash (2)

If you’re looking for a pudding that is both gluten-free and vegan, these fritters do the job marvellously. The squash can be swapped for slices of apple or pear, if you prefer, and serve with ice-cream instead of the yoghurt if you want something a little more indulgent.

Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4, generously

For the fritters
85g cornflour
40g buckwheat flour
⅛ tsp salt
140ml sparkling water
About 700ml sunflower oil, for deep-frying
½ butternut squash (500g), peeled, deseeded and cut into ¼cm-thick half-moons

For the five-spice sugar
50g caster sugar
20g desiccated coconut, well-toasted
1 tsp Chinese five-spice, plus ¼ tsp extra to serve
2 tsp orange zest, plus 1 tsp extra to serve

To serve
1 tsp orange zest
200g coconut yoghurt
¼ tsp Chinese five-spice
2 tbsp maple syrup

Mix the ingredients for the five-spice sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

For the fritters, whisk both the flours and the salt, then gradually whisk in the sparkling water to make a thin batter. Fill a medium saute pan with enough oil for deep-frying (ie, to come 4-5cm up the sides), and put it on a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (180C on a probe, if you have one), you’re good to go.

Dip a piece of squash in the batter, shake off any excess and fry until lightly coloured and cooked through – around three minutes. Repeat with the remaining squash, frying eight to 10 pieces at a time, so in four or five batches in total. Once cooked, transfer the fritters to a tray lined with kitchen paper and dust liberally with the spiced sugar (you will likely have more sugar than you need, so save any extra for another use such as your morning pancakes or porridge).

Stir the orange zest into the yoghurt in a shallow serving bowl, then mix the five-spice into the maple syrup and drizzle this over the yoghurt. Pile up the fritters on to a large plate, sprinkle with the extra five-spice and orange zest, and serve warm with the flavoured yoghurt alongside for dipping.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for butternut squash (2024)
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