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Roasted Squash with Pickled Walnut Salsa Verde & White Bean Puree
This post was created in collaboration with Opies. I’m quite traditional when it comes to Christmas dinner (it’s just the two of us this year so it will be the best roast chicken we can find with all the trimmings) but I know for people who don’t eat meat that festive dining can either be a chore or a chance to get creative. So, I thought I’d contribute a show-stopping, festive main for my vegan friends this year with this beautiful party platter of Roasted Squash with Pickled Walnut Salsa Verde & White Bean Puree which can be enjoyed either as a centrepiece or as part of a much larger spread.
Even better, this platter of squash with pickled walnut salsa works great for entertaining because you can make all of the elements ahead ready to simply assemble with freshly roasted squash. It also works really well at room temperature, key in so many holiday dishes.
First, you’ve got the white bean puree, lightly seasoned with lemon juice and a small clove of garlic. You’ll want to use good, jarred beans for this for the silkiest finish, and because the bean stock from the jar will amp up the flavour so much better than if you were to be thinning canned beans out with their can juice or just with water. To serve 2-3 (as per this recipe – I’ve kept the servings broad because we all know Christmas is about many, many side dishes!) you’ll want either half one of those tall standard jars, or a small one. The larger jars are not a problem if you’re doubling this, but if not double up on the pickled walnut salsa verde, as the beans are great mashed onto toast and finished with it either for breakfast or lunch over the days that follow.
Next, we need to talk about the pickled walnut salsa verde. We’ve obviously got fresh parsley and mint in there, along with lemon, lots of extra virgin olive oil, a handful of chopped pistachios and some punchy red chilli to keep things festive looking as well as tasting great, but the real star of the show is the aforementioned pickled walnuts.
Now, pickled walnuts might strike you as something either old fashioned you serve with cheese or something someone with a walnut tree after a big harvest might turn to in a fit of preservation desperation (we had one outside my parents house in France: I totally understand this) but if you’re looking for a way of adding a little pickle and punch to dishes with a pleasantly earthy astringency, do grab a jar of Opies Pickled Walnuts (you can find them in most supermarkets!) Not only will they really make this salsa sing, but they do also deserve a revival alongside your festive cold cuts or cheese plates, too.
And, if you’re not sure what to do with the rest of the jar, I’ve got another recipe where pickled walnuts are the star coming just after Christmas, something that will contribute a much needed lightness whilst still keeping in that edge of indulgence to enjoy during those transient, dead days between Christmas and New Year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What sort of squash should I use in this recipe?
Any squash or pumpkin will work in this recipe, though I encourage you to use an heirloom variety. They not only have more interesting flavours, but unlike butternut squash many of them have skins that are not just edible, but downright delicious when roasted and keeping the skin on will really help the visual impact of the finished dish: I used a small Crown Prince squash here so I could keep the green skin on.
Does it matter what sort of bean I use here?
I’ve tested this recipe with both jarred butter beans and regular white beans and both were delicious so use whatever you have to hand at the best price – but jarred is important here to get a really silky puree.
This easy, make-ahead friendly recipe for Roasted Squash with Pickled Walnut Salsa Verde & White Bean Puree makes the perfect vegan centrepiece for a festive feast – it is also as delicious served at room temperature as it is hot or warm.
For the Roasted Squash
600g squash wedges (I used Crown Prince)
1 tbsp light oil
For the White Bean Puree
1 x 325g jar white beans or 1/2 x 700g jar
1 small garlic clove
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from approx. 1/4 lemon)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste
For the Pickled Walnut Salsa Verde
small handful flat leaf parsley,
small handful fresh mint leaves
1 red chilli
1 pickled walnut
4 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from approx. 1/4 lemon)
1/2 tsp maple syrup
Pre-heat the oven to 200C and line a large roasting tray with baking parchment. Toss the squash wedges together with the oil and a generous amount of salt, and spread them out across the tray. Roast for 40-50 minutes, turning them over halfway, until they’re tender, the skin (if still attached) is soft and wrinkled, and the edges of the squash or pumpkin pieces have started to caramelise.
While the squash is roasting, make the white bean puree. To a high speed blender or food processor, add all the ingredients except for the salt, reserving the bean stock from the jar of beans. Blitz until smooth, adding splashes of bean stock to thin the puree out until it is just swirl-able with the back of a spoon. Add salt to taste: how much you need will depend on how much was already in the jar of beans.
To make the pickled walnut salsa verde, finely chop the herbs and the pistachios, combining them all in a small bowl. De-seed and finely chop the chilli, adding it to the bowl along with the pickled walnut, also finely chopped. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and a generous pinch of salt.
To assemble, swirl the bean puree across the bottom of a large serving platter, and arrange the squash on top. Drizzle over the salsa verde, and serve.
Choose an heirloom variety of squash or pumpkin with edible skins, and jarred beans as they provide a better flavour and smoother texture than the canned variety in this recipe.
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