Persian squash & pistachio roast

Persian squash & pistachio roast

Next celebration? Christmas. Many of us are thinking of enriching the menu, by breaking the rules of classic dishes. Let’s tweak the festive menu by taking advice from James magazine. Try new dishes this Christmas to make them your favorites in coming years. So if you have as a guest a vegetarian, don’t panic, but refer to this recipe and you’ll be more than happy, your guest as well.

Persian squash & pistachio roast


  • 400 g squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 50 g dried apricots
  • 50 g sour cherries or cranberries
  • 2 tesapoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 200 g tinned or vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 100 g shelled pistachios
  • 100 g almonds
  • 100 g cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 2 medium free-range eggs , (or to make it vegan, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons of water and left to soak)
  • 1 pomegranate


Cooking method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Grease a 24cm loose-bottomed tart tin with a little olive oil.

Peel, deseed and chop the squash into 1cm chunks, then toss onto a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and sea salt and black pepper, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

Peel and roughly chop the onion and garlic, and roughly chop the apricots and cranberries. Bash the cumin and coriander seeds, and zest the lemon. Pick and roughly chop the coriander, then roughly chop the chestnuts.

In a frying pan over a medium heat, cook the onion in a little oil for 10 minutes or until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until beginning to soften, then add all the spices and a little more oil. Cook for a couple more minutes, until it’s all smelling great. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Blitz the pistachios and almonds until they’re ground to a coarse powder with a little texture. Tip into a bowl with the quinoa or rice and dried fruit, then add the lemon zest, coriander and chestnuts. Beat and stir in the eggs (or chia seed mix) and the onion.

Take the squash out of the oven and mash half of it with the back of a fork, leaving the other half in chunks, then stir this into the mixture too.

Pile the lot into the prepared tin and press down to flatten. Cook in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until set.

While it’s cooking, make the tomato sauce. Peel and chop the garlic and onion. Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Prick the chillies and add to the pan with a little oil, the cinnamon stick, sprigs of thyme, garlic, onion and turmeric.

Cook for a minute or two, then add the plum tomatoes. Fill the tin with water and pour that in too, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Season with salt, stir through the balsamic vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

If using the feta, place it in a bowl, zest over the lemon, add the coriander seeds, some black pepper and a good drizzle of oil and leave it to marinate.

Once the sauce is thick and glossy, pick out the chilli, cinnamon and thyme. Set aside.

Take the nut roast out of the oven, then carefully remove it from the tin and place it on a serving platter.

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