Squash and Sprout Tops

1 December 2020 Dairy Free Gluten Free Vegetarian Friendly
The contrast of the caramelised orange flesh of squash wedges and the bright green glossy leaves of the sprout tops are the perfect invitation to indulge in the flavours, colours and textures of this dish.  Grilling and roasting the squash in wedges makes for wonderful shapes on the plate, plus the added bonus of ease as the skin is edible as are the seeds which toast beautifully on the tray.

This is a revised version of a classic Thanksgiving recipe from a few years back, just as delicious eaten warm as at room temperature, so feel free to make it in advance or make extra for leftovers. If I don’t eat the squash straight off the griddle tray, I love them on a bed of greens, preferably sprout tops (or cavolo nero as a second favourite), blanched and burnished back in the griddle pan before serving.  

Note: I toss the greens in herb butter here, but feel free to use an anchovy or chili butter, or a drizzle of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a sprinkling of lemon zest also work a treat.  Flavoured butters are a fridge essential, rolled up in parchment, they will keep for a couple of weeks happily ready to be used any time. They are fantastic melted onto steamed or roasted vegetables, smeared onto fish fillets before baking and stirred into warm rice or grains before serving. I also like to keep some in the freezer for emergency meal jazz.  I use salted butter for everything and therefore have not added extra salt to the recipes.  If you use unsalted don’t forget to add a good pinch of salt to the mixture.

I created this recipe for my collaboration with Crane Cookware, whose cast iron and stainless steel pans truly combine both beauty and function and are my most treasured cooking implements.  

Squash and Sprout Tops

  • 1 delicata squash or 1 medium acorn squash (or 1 med butternut squash, 1/2 blue hubbard pumpkin or any other of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp garlic oil (if you have any to hand) or olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • handful of sage leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 300g Sprout Tops (or Cavolo Nero / Chard / Kale)
  • Herb Butter
  • Grill the Squash:
  • Preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Note:  If something else is roasting in the oven at the same time at either a little higher or a little lower, do not worry, just roast the squash alongside for a few minutes more or less.  The oven time is just to finish off the cooking as they are started on the hob) 
  • Slice the delicata squash into rounds approximately 2cm thick (or into wedges if you are using any other variety) 
  • Drizzle a good glug (1 tbsp) of garlic or olive oil over the top, and sprinkle the allspice, Aleppo pepper, salt and pepper. 
  • Heat your griddle pan until its hot but not smoking and add the squash, making sure not to cram it in too much so that it doesn’t steam.  Turn the heat down to medium high and leave the squash to cook for about 5 – 8 minutes until its beginning to soften and the grill marks from the pan are well defined. Adjust the heat down slightly if they are charring too quickly.  
  • Once they are nicely caramelised, turn them over, adding another little splash of oil to the pan or the uncooked side before turning over.  Sprinkle with the sage leaves and allow to sear in the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to the oven for 10-15 minutes to cook through.  
  • While the squash is roasting, separate the sprout top leaves and rinse through to remove any grit.  If you are using cavolo nero or kale, strip the leaves from the tough centre ribs of the greens. Blanch the greens in well salted boiling water for about 2-3 minutes until they are just cooked through but still bright green.  
  • Drain immediately and run under cold water to stop the cooking.  Squeeze out any excess water with your hands and roughly chop the leaves, ready to assemble.  
  • Take the squash out of the oven and remove onto a plate to rest for a few minutes.  Place the griddle back on the hob and place all the drained and dried leaves onto the pan with 2 slices of herb butter.  Toss everything together to coat the leaves in the butter as it melts.  Heat until the edges of the leaves begin to catch and char a little and they are glistening. Add a little more malden salt to the top of the leaves and top with the grilled squash pieces.  For a little festive weeknight cheer and colour I spoon a little cranberry sauce or for something a little more savoury,  a simple salsa verde or gremolata is a fresh alternative.
Have you made this dish?

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