From basic to brilliant: hasselback butternut squash

This is a nice one for the barbecue; the smoky flavour you get complements this dish superbly! I often use the same ingredients but cut the squash into cubes instead. It’s less of a faff, but I think you’ll agree hasselback slicing the squash turns a pretty basic dish into an eye-catching centrepiece. Using a sharp knife will make slicing easier and much more uniform. Placing a wooden spoon at the base of the squash will help ensure you don’t cut too deep. If you do accidently cut the squash in half, all is not ruined! Just place the pieces together so it looks whole again.

Hasselback Butternut Squash

Serves 2-4

Prep time 15 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour

1 large butternut squash (about 800g)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp date molasses or brown sugar
15 cashews, lightly crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander, to serve


Prepare your barbecue for indirect heat cooking.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds from the centre. You could peel the skin but I rarely do. It crisps right up and has a lot of goodness in it. Place the two halves, cut-side down, on a chopping board and, using a very sharp knife, make slits every 7-10mm. Be careful not to cut all the way through.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When visibly hot, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop in the hot oil, stir in the cumin seeds and curry leaves and let them sizzle in the oil for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger paste, chillies and chilli powder and continue cooking for another 30 seconds.

Place the squash, slit-side up, on a baking tray and rub this nicely seasoned oil all over. Try to get the oil deep into the slits. Place the tray in your barbecue and cover. Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through and beginning to colour. You might need to add a little charcoal during cooking.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the molasses or brown sugar and the crushed cashews. When your squash is looking like it’s ready, smother it with the butter mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes.

To serve, transfer the squash halves to a warm serving platter. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the chopped coriander.



Extracted from The Curry Guy Veggie by Dan Toombs (Quadrille, approx €17.50). Photography by Kris Kirkham.


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