If you know me personally you will have no doubt as to how much I miss our years in Surrey. Please don’t think that everything was plain sailing; nothing in the real world is totally charmed. We had our ups and our downs, but one thing’s for sure – the kitchen space in our tiny flat was my refuge. There were times when I cursed its size (for years I wished for a larger space as I was constantly running out of workspaces) but now that this wish is granted I do tend to feel lost. I was saying that to my beautiful Mum this morning. She understood.
Apart from the various kitchen conundrums (these are small ones compared to others so I won’t complain), one of the persons I miss is my lovely friend and neighbour Fiona. She always wondered how we managed to plod on in such a tiny space. She was also my confidant and my guinea pig! Whenever something came out of the oven down I went to take her a piece of cake or two, depending on how much baking was done that day. Apart from knocking on her door whenever we needed anything flat-related, I knew she would give me an honest opinion on anything, including anything food-related. She was my family away from home and I hope I showed her how much I appreciated her kindness.
This recipe is one she taught me, and it stuck. It’s right up my street when it comes to sides: so easy to prepare and very tasty. Having said that you need cumin for this, which isn’t really one of my favourite spices, but here it really works. In its raw state cumin tastes and smells like sweat. Sorry for the analogy although now I could challenge you not to find it so acrid. I actually love it here but if you now find it gross, especially after that comparison, or you don’t have it go ahead and replace it with something smoky like paprika, or with earthier flavours like garam masala or a bit of curry. For a little somethin’ somethin’ hot you can use fresh chilli. The smaller the better.
Now I could have swore, on my own life, I had written down this recipe somewhere. As I’m writing this I’m going through my kitchen notebooks and I have copious amounts of papers of various sizes strewn in front of me. I managed to find a paper with the following: Feta (in cubes), 7 pm – start roasting veggies, add broccoli 10 minutes before squash is done. That is it! A good guess would be that I made it for us during an Easter lunch, to which F very graciously accepted our invite. (And having her over for Easter would eventually become a tradition.) I’m sure that paper referred to the recipe in question, but that’s not very helpful. And here I don’t simply mean to you! Thankfully we don’t need much to recreate this little gem. What makes it better is that you can scale it up for more guests.
- 1 butternut squash, around 900g, cut into cubes
- rapeseed oil
- a good few dashes of powdered cumin
- 400g broccoli, washed and cut into florets
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 200g plain feta cheese, cut into cubes
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.
Tip the cubed butternut squash in a non-stick roasting tin, and pour a few glugs of oil on top. Distribute the cumin over the squash and give everything a good rub with your hands. Place the dish in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes.
Take the roasting tin out of the oven. Add the broccoli florets to the squash and gently give the vegetables a light mix. Season with some salt and pepper and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft enough but not mushy. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top of the veggies and serve while still warm.
For around 4 people as a generous side, and good with any other baked veggies or a nice piece of roast. Could be also eaten on it’s own with a fried egg.