Charred broccoli and delicata squash with herby broccoli puree and preserved lemon

Images taken by my wonderful friend Holly  Rye London

Images taken by my wonderful friend Holly Rye London

This is a beautifully bright starter that is a sure way to impress your dinner guests. Making full use of the broccoli the stalk is steamed before being blitzed into a creamy herby puree. The florets are roasted giving them a wonderfully nutty taste. If you haven’t tried broccoli roasted before you are in for a treat. You can sub in other squash here if you like (acorn or butternut would work well too. I love delicata for its natural sweetness and its stripy skin looks fabulous too. As the weather is cool I like to enjoy this dish warm but it is equally good at room temperature too which can make things easier when entertaining.

Serves 4 as a starter

 Ingredients

1 broccoli

1 delicata squash

olive oil

1 tbsp tahini, I like Belazu

about 2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped

about 1 tbsp dill, chopped plus more to garnish (optional)

sea salt, black pepper

½ small preserved lemon skin, finely chopped (1 tbsp worth) I like Belazu

Method 

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees fan setting.

  • To prepare your squash slice it in half and scoop out the stringy, seedy flesh. (See note.)

  • Slice your squash halves into roughly 1cm pieces and spread them out onto a baking tray.

  • Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands ensuring all the pieces get a good coating and roast for 30 mins. Your squash is ready when it has gained a good colour and caramelised in places.

  • Separate your broccoli into florets and stem slicing any large florets in half to achieve roughly uniform size. Place your florets on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands ensuring all the pieces get a good coating and roast for 15 mins.

  • Slice the stalk into roughly 5mm pieces and place in a small saucepan with just a little water.

  • Place over a medium heat with a lid on the saucepan and gently steam for a about five minutes. Your broccoli should be soft enough to pierce with a fork but not mushy.

  • Remove from the heat and drain any water.

  • Add your tahini, chopped basil, a generous pinch of salt and a good splash of olive oil to your broccoli and blitz. I use a hand held stick blender for this but a magimix would work too. Season to taste

  • To assemble place a heaped tablespoon of the broccoli puree on a plate using the back of the spoon to create a swishing motion if you wish. Arrange your broccoli and squash evenly on top. Sprinkle over preserved lemon, drizzle with olive oil and finish with some fresh basil or any herb you have to hand as a garnish.

Note – Rather than discarding your squash seeds give them a rinse and remove as much pulp as you can. Allow them to dry slightly on a clean dishcloth. Preheat your oven to 180° fan setting. Place dry seeds in a small bowl and combine with ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Stir and spread over a parchment lined tray. Roast for about 30-40 mins until crunchy. Enjoy sprinkled onto salads, soup or as a snack

Alexandra Dudley