Squash + Chestnut Roast
This is more than a nut roast. I use roasted squash, seeds, pistachios and chestnuts to make the base of this tart, which is topped with baked ricotta and chilli-spiked greens. Vegans can use silken tofu in this squash and chestnut roast instead of ricotta – just spice it as you would the ricotta and then bake until it starts to brown.
For the nut roast base
½ butternut squash (about 600g)
100g shelled pistachio nuts
100g sunflower or pumpkin seeds
100g vac-packed chestnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Leaves from a small bunch of thyme
Salt and black pepper
For the topping
2 banana shallots
A head of cavolo nero
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
A pinch of dried chilli
500g ricotta or silken tofu
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Pop the squash on a baking tray with some salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden.
While the squash is roasting, put the pistachios and sunflower or pumpkin seeds on a baking tray. Roast alongside the squash for the last 5 minutes.
Remove the tray of nuts and seeds and tip them into a food processor with the roast squash, chestnuts, olive oil, maple syrup, lemon zest, thyme and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Blitz into a fine-textured mixture.
Tip the nut roast mixture into an oiled 24cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Use the back of a spoon to press it down into the edges, then make a slight indent in the middle. Roast for 40 minutes, or until crisp at the edges.
Warm some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the shallots and fry until crisp. Add the cavolo nero, thyme and dried chilli, then cook for another few minutes, until the edges are starting to crisp, then tip on to a plate.
Whip the ricotta with the juice of the whole lemon and half its zest, plus a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Take the nut roast out of the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes to cool a little, then spoon the ricotta on top using the back of a spoon to create little ups and downs.
Scatter the nut roast with the shallots and greens. Serve in generous slices with all the trimmings on Christmas Day or with a simple salad for a more simple dinner.
IMAGE: Issy Croker