Sometimes all you feel like is a simple dinner. No complex flavours, just good heart-warming food. Something that feels like an indulgence but is actually quite healthy. One that produces left overs – an easy lunch the next day, tasty hot or cold. This roasted butternut squash with spiced chickpeas does all of the above and is super versatile – I have made it in summer and plonked it on a plate with a colourful salad, and in winter it goes beautifully with roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower. The chickpeas on their own make a moreish snack…
The sweetness of the French shallots contrasts nicely with the mealiness of the chickpeas. In my eyes squash/pumpkin can do no wrong, particularly when it is roasted, so it instantly makes any dish ten times tastier. You can used tinned chickpeas instead of dried, however if you have the time to soak them the night before and cook them during the day, you will be rewarded with a pleasingly nutty crunch. Oh and roasted garlic? There won’t be any vampires coming near me any time soon. That stuff is addictive! It loses it’s horrible pungent smell and transforms into little oozing nuggets of goodness.
If you are on a budget then this is the meal for you – chickpeas cost next to nothing and if you purchase butternuts in peak season they cost around a dollar. Who said good food had to be of extortionate costs? A little loving preparation goes a long way…
Roasted Butternut Squash with Spiced Chickpeas
1kg butternut squash, peeled deseeded and cut into 4cm chunks
300g French shallots or small onions, halved or quartered
6-7 garlic cloves, unpeeled and bashed
2 tblsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
175g dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or 400g can)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
10 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon mild paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ tsp sea salt
4 tbsp olive oil
Drain chickpeas and place in a medium sized pot with bay leaves. Cover with plenty of cold water, bring to boil and boil hard for ten minutes. Reduce heat to gentle simmer and cook for about one hour, until tender and able to be crushed with a fork. Whilst simmering, skim off any scum that rises to the surface and add more boiling water if necessary.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 190C. Put the squash, shallots and garlic cloves in a large roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and grind a fair amount of black pepper over the top. Sprinkle over salt to taste. Toss well. Roast for about 50 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender and the edges are beginning to caramelise.
Whilst the squash is roasting and the chickpeas are still cooking, prepare the spicy dressing. Dry fry the cumin, fennel, coriander and peppercorns in a small fry pan until fragrant. This should take one to two minutes. Use a pestle and mortar or spice grinder to crush to a powder. Don’t worry if it isn’t really fine – some coarse bits are ok. Return to the pan and add garlic, rosemary, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Stir well and heat gently for one minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the chickpeas are tender, drain well and return to pan. Drizzle over the spicy dressing and mix thoroughly.
To serve, divide roasted veg between bowls and sprinkle over the spicy chickpeas.
Source: Slightly adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday