This colourful, healthy and delicious *roasted butternut squash pilaf with feta and fresh herbs is my absolute favourite summer dish. It makes a perfect lunch all by itself, great for vegetarians, or serve it with roasted or BBQ chicken thighs, pork fillet or lamb chops in a paprika marinade. A bowlful like this will easily serve four to six people, just add more rice and lentils to scale it up or down.
You will need…
- 1/2 large or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
- 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50g feta cheese
- 150g brown basmati rice
- 50g brown lentils
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp pine nuts, 1 tbsp flaked almonds – toasted
- 1 tbsp chopped, mixed fresh green herbs such as mint, flat leaf parsley, coriander or lovage
- Optional: paprika marinade: 1 tbsp hot Spanish paprika, 2 tbsps light olive oil, 1 tbsp sea salt, 1 tbsp sherry vinegar, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1 clove of garlic, crushed. This will easily be enough for 8 skin-on chicken thighs or lamb chops or a large pork fillet.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Place the cubes of butternut squash and the sliced onion in a shallow roasting dish with the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, nutmeg, chilli flakes and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Mix thoroughly and roast for 40 minutes or until cooked through and thoroughly caramelised.
- Meanwhile, cook the lentils in a little water on the hob for 10 minutes until cooked through but still firm. Drain and set aside.
- Cook the basmati rice in a little salted water.
- Lightly toast the almonds and pinenuts in a dry frying pan on the hob for a few minutes – stir and watch them carefully as they can burn very quickly.
- Assemble the pilaf in a large, open serving bowl by adding and mixing together the cooked rice, lentils, roasted squash and onions with the oil and spices, the toasted nuts, crumbled feta and chopped fresh herbs. Serve at room temperature.
For the paprika marinated meats, simply mix the marinade together and coat the meat thoroughly. Cover and leave it to marinate for a couple of hours and then BBQ or roast as you prefer.
*This recipe was first published for my monthly ‘Food & Drink’ column for The Bury Free Press.
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