Sunday, 1 November 2015

Filled with the Taste of the Orient!

Zucca Violina Ripiena al Forno con Couscous Ebraico, Okra, Zenzero & Baharat
Baked Butternut Squash, Stuffed with Israeli Couscous, Okra & Bharat

Time to do something a little different with squash... it IS the season and it does make sense to be buying these wonderful vegetables and enjoying them... but there is no reason to keep preparing them in the same old same old way!

At least that was what I told myself this evening... and this is the idea that I came up with! So tell me- when was the last time you had butternut squash served up to you this way? Huh?

The juicy sweetness of butternut is not only delicious, but it also makes it totally versatile and well-suited to team with a multitude of flavors... it does't have to only be cinnamon and nutmeg!

So I decided to use rich and spicy but mild and delicious Baharat to give an Oriental note to my supper- and whilst I was at it, I added a couple of other ingredients to keep things slightly "exotic"... and fun!

So, as you can see, I prepared a half of a very small butternut squash this evening- just enough for an individual serving... I will leave it up to your own better judgement (or hunger!) to decide on that!

Otherwise, all I needed was 1 shallot, 5-6 okra pods, 5-6 cherry tomatoes, a little fresh ginger, some fresh parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil and 2 handfuls of Israeli couscous... that's plenty for a single serving!

And of course- some Baharat spice!

So, where yesterday evening's chard dish, reduced those beautiful rainbow-colored stalks into something that looked a little something like "vegetable roadkill", this evenings dish turned out to be just as pretty as a picture! 

The first thing you need to do is to remove the seeds, then carefully cut around the outside edge of the squash with a sharp paring knife, nice and deep, then cut into the inner part of the squash in a checkerboard fashion, as you can see in the picture.

Then, using a spoon, scoop out those sections and set them to one side, to be diced a little smaller for the filling.

Season well with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and then bake in a hot oven, at 200°C for around 40 minutes, whilst you prepare the filling.

Fry the shallot, cut into thin slices, the finely chopped ginger and the squash together in a little olive oil for 4-5 minutes and then add the okra, cut into small pieces and continue to fry for a further 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Now, add the couscous, a good pinch of salt and a little pepper and deglaze the pan with enough boiling water to cover everything well.

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let the couscous cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whilst that happens, finely chop some parley and then add that and about a tablespoon of Baharat spice. Stir together well and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes for all of the flavor to be absorbed.

After about 30 minutes of baking, the squash should be almost ready and at this point you can spoon in the couscous filling, drizzle everything with a little olive oil and then pop it back in the oven to finish, uncovered for a further 10 minutes or so.

After which time it will look as beautiful as this and will be ready to serve up with not a second to spare... you will want to get started on this beauty as quick as you can!

Needless to say... it does actually taste even better than it looks!!!

So just to be cruel... I shall let you all have an even closer look! Hehe!

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