Monday, July 20, 2009

Butternut squash with Lebanese lamb and garlic yoghurt

Serves 4

Ideal midweek supper genius - plan a couple of days ahead for this...

2 butternut squash, approx 600g each
2 tblsp olive oil
15g bunch thyme
1 medium onion
500g organic minced lamb
2 tsp ground cumin
50g pine kernels
25g flat-leaf parsley
350g natural yoghurt
1 fat garlic clove
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tblsp best olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 220c/gas mark 7. Using a strong, sharp knife, halve the butternut lengthways. Scrape out and discard the seeds. Extend the cavity by cutting out chunks of squash. Don’t be too fussy about this because you want plenty of butternut to remain. Cut a lattice, about 1cm wide and deep, all over the flesh to speed up cooking. Use 2 tblsp olive oil to smear the surface lavishly. Season with salt and pepper and scatter a few thyme sprigs over the top. Roast for 35 minutes or until the flesh is meltingly tender.

Meanwhile, peel, halve and chop the onion. Heat the remaining oil in a spacious frying pan and cook the onion for about 10 minutes until limp but uncoloured. Finely chop the excavated butternut. Add the mince, increase the heat slightly and cook, stirring and breaking up clumps of meat, for about 8 minutes until browned all over.

Stir in the cumin and pine kernels, season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped butternut. Add a cup of water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook briskly until juicy but not the least bit wet or greasy, crushing the chopped butternut into the meat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Chop the parsley leaves and any remaining thyme. Stir both into the mixture. Spoon it into the cavity and over the squash.

To make the yoghurt, peel, chop and crush the garlic with a generous pinch of salt (discard the green central shoot). Beat into the yoghurt with the lemon juice and 2 tblsp best olive oil. Spoon the yoghurt over the butternut and serve.

This needs something slightly acidic on the side, a sharp tomato salad would be ideal.