Roasted delicata squash, shallots and chestnuts with sage and almond pesto
I love the colour of a delicata squash – bright yellowy orange flesh with a dramatic green and yellow striped skin. When roasted the flesh becomes slightly sweet and the skin rich and nutty. Roasting it in ghee deepens the flavour and offsets the sweetness of the mixed spice in this recipe perfectly but olive oil works fine too. The chestnuts add a slightly festive feel but if you cannot find them the recipe is equally delicious without. I love to finish it with a good zesty pesto. I use sage here adding an element of maturity to the dish. You can serve this as a starter or as a side. Any leftover pesto can be kept to add to pasta or even spread on toast.
50g whole almonds
2 medium delicata squash (or one large one)
3 banana shallots (or 6 small shallots)
2 tbsp ghee (I like Ossa)
100g cooked chestnuts
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
salt and pepper
small bunch basil
small bunch of sage
1 small garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped.
juice of half a lemon
tsp sea salt
6-8 tbsp olive oil, plus more to garnish
Preheat your oven to 180° fan setting. Spread your almonds on a clean and dry baking tray and bake for 10 minutes until they begin to smell nutty. Remove and allow to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 225° fan setting.
To prepare your squash slice it in half width ways. Then cut both halves down the middle lengthways. Scoop out the stringy, seedy flesh. (See note.)
Slice your squash into roughly 1cm pieces and spread them out onto a baking tray.
Peel and halve shallots and add these to the tray with squash. Sprinkle over just 1 tsp of your mixed spice over the squash and shallots and season with salt and pepper
Place our ghee in a saucepan over a low heat to gently melt it. Pour about three quarters of it over your squash and shallots and massage everything together with your hands ensuring everything has an even coating.
Roast for 20 mins after which your squash should be soft and slightly charred. Briefly remove from the oven to turn your squash pieces ensuring they get an even char.
Place your chestnuts in the saucepan with the remaining ghee. Add the remaining ½ tsp mixed spice and season well with salt and pepper. Stir to combine before adding to the tray with the squash and shallots. Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes until everything has a nice golden char to it.
To make the pesto add the leaves of your basil and sage to a food processor followed by your garlic, lemon juice, tsp of sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. Pulse until broken down.
Add your almonds and pulse again until your almonds are broken down but you still have some texture. Transfer mix to a small bowl and slowly add your oil stirring until you reach a desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
To serve place your roasted squash, shallots and chestnuts onto a serving dish or dishes and spoon over the pesto.
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