This recipe is simple but big on flavour, textures and taste combinations. It makes a brilliantly easy side for almost any neutrally-flavoured main dish, such as meat or fish. It also makes a great salad for lunchtime, and is one of my favourite recipes to throw into a tuppaware for a quick and easy packed lunch on the go. It travels well, as you sear the squash rather than boiling or roasting it, which keeps it to an al dente texture and makes it less leak-able. You can bulk it out with other fresh ingredients to make it more filling and more exciting. Try chopped, toasted nuts, tamari toasted seeds, chopped fruits, flaked fish, sliced cold meat, chickpeas, mung beans or puy lentils, sliced avocado and dark green vegetables like grated broccoli or crisp baby spinach. I have also served griddled squash as canapés and small sharing starters for guests, spooning a small dollop of cashew cream or tahini and miso dip onto each slice, and topping it with things like alfalfa sprouts, amaranth leaves, homemade vegetable slaw, avocado salsa and toasted sesame seeds. Give it ago - it's quick, easy, cheap and beautiful. And most importantly - healthy, natural and energising.
For The Vegetable Base
1 Large Butternut Squash (can also use sweet potato or pumpkin)
1 Tablespoon Melted Coconut or Olive Oil
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt, or 1 Teaspoon Tamari
Fresh Herbs of Choice (rosemary & lemon thyme are favourites of mine)
Salad Leaves of Choice - I used kale but you can substitute for spinach, lettuce, watercress and other vegetables
Handful of Fresh Blackberries, optional
1/2 Cup Mung Beans, optional
1 Teaspoon Truffle Oil, optional (really adds to the flavour, but I would recommend either truffle oil or cashew cheese - not both)
+ Use the whole squash even if you are just cooking for one person - leave the leftovers for lunch another day during the week, or incorporate into smoothies or soups.
Cashew Cheese Sauce
1 cup Cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1/2 cup Cold Water
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Nutritional Yeast
1/2 Teaspoon Lecithin, optional (helps to thicken the cheese, but isn't essential)
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Tahini, optional
Slice the squash as thinly as you can, using a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer. When the squash is in thin discs, slice them in half. Place the squash in a bowl with the oil and salt or tamari and toss them through the mixture to coat them evenly. Use your hands to rub the oils into the squash. Heat a griddle pan on a high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Reduce the heat to a medium temperature and arrange a few slices of squash on the pan. Leave to sear for about 2 minutes, careful not to move them or they won't char as well. Check them, and if they are blackened, flip them over to sear the other side. If not, keep them on the heat for another 2-3 minutes, checking regularly. Repeat this process until you have used up all of the squash. (If you want to serve this dish warm or hot, place the seared squash pieces into a heatproof dish and heat them in the oven at 160c, until all of the squash is cooked and the cashew cheese is done).
Whilst the squash cooks, begin the cashew cheese. Simply place all of the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend for 3 minutes, until smooth.
When all of the squash has been seared (it should be al dente), combine it with your other ingredients of choice in a large mixing or serving bowl. Coat with extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil, or stir the cashew cheese through all of the ingredients. Alternatively, leave it as it is, and serve the cashew cheese on the side.