Persian Stuffed Squash with Tahini Sauce & Cinnamon Onions
2 small uchiki kuri (Japanese onion squash), or similar small squash
For the filling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 100 g Camargue red rice
- 20 g wild rice
- 200 g spinach, shredded
- rind of a preserved lemon, finely chopped
- 12 black olives, freshly stoned and chopped
- 30 g pistachio kernels, dry fried and roughly chopped
- 150 g cooked organic chickpeas
- 6 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ras el hanout
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh mint
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the tahini sauce
- 40 g tahini
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 100 ml water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the crispy cinnamon onions
- 2 onions, very thinly sliced
- 1 tsp ground sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- groundnut oil
- a little fresh mint, finely chopped
- a handful of pomegranate seeds
- Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (325°F, gas mark 3). Halve the squashes and scoop out the seeds. Rub the flesh with olive oil. Rub the unpeeled garlic cloves with a little olive oil. Place the squash and the garlic cloves together on a baking tray and put in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until the squash flesh is soft when tested with a sharp knife. Remove from the oven and set to one side.
- While the squash is in the oven, combine the Camargue and wild rice in a pan. Cover with enough water so that the rice is 1 cm submerged beneath the surface. Set the pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting, place a lid over the pan and cook for a further ten minutes. Remove from the heat and set to one side for ten minutes, leaving the lid on, then drain.
- To make the rest of the filling, pour the olive oil into a frying pan or skillet and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onion and cook, stirring, until it becomes soft and translucent. Reduce the heat. Squeeze the roast garlic from its skin and add to the pan. Add the chilli flakes, chopped pistachio kernels, cumin, cinnamon, ras el hanout, sea salt, chickpeas, cooked rice and the shredded spinach. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped olives, chopped preserved lemon rind, parsley and mint.
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (300°F, gas mark 2). Use the mixture to fill each squash half. Return to the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime make the cinnamon onions. Pour the ground nut oil into a pan to a depth of 2 cm and place the pan over a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring frequently for 6-7 minutes, or until the onions are a golden brown colour and have become slightly crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. In a small bowl mix together the ground sea salt and the cinnamon. Tip the fried onions into the bowl and toss so that they are coated with the cinnamon and salt mixture. Set to one side.
- For the tahini sauce, place the tahini in a blender and gradually add the water, a little at a time. Next add the sea salt, lemon juice and gradually add the olive oil, processing until you have a smooth sauce the consistency of mayonnaise. Set to one side.
- To serve, place one stuffed squash half on each plate. Drizzle generously with the tahini sauce. Scatter the cinnamon onions over the top, followed by the chopped mint and the pomegranate seeds. Serve with a light, crisp salad
Recipe & photo from Steve Dent AKA The Circus Gardener’s Kitchen