Supper Club Charred Squash with Burrata + Loveage Oil
For three uncharacteristically warm evenings this October I was lucky enough to take over Paradise for a series of three suppers. It felt like having a load of friends round for dinner (nearly 90 each night), just in a much bigger and more beautiful dining room. Cooking for me is quite often a solitary pursuit, I cook for my family and on occasion friends but it is rare I get to cook for people who don’t have a vested interest in telling me it’s delicious. So I always love the chance to get out and meet the people who cook my food in their own homes, compare cooking notes and find out other things they love, it gives me such a huge amount of energy and ideas and new friends.
The meal we ate need up being pretty close to my ideal dinner. We started with garden crudités, baby heritage carrots, radishes, beets and persian cucumbers, raw and fresh to dip into muhammara, white miso butterbean hummus and pistachio and herb smash, it was every colour of the rainbow.
Then we moved onto burrata with charred squash and verdant loveage oil, the recipe for which I have shared below. For our main course it was these gnocchi with buttery tomato sauce and for dessert melting chocolate puddings sweetened with maple and topped with halva and perfect figs.
The whole evening was, as all good things are, a collaboration. Cat the incredible chef at Paradise (and ex-head chef at one of my favourite ever places Petersham Nurseries) was graceful and brilliant in the kitchen, she is one to watch for sure. Shelley the all round bombshell mastermind behind Good Roots Festival for having me along. And to Jess who works with me for pulling in some amazing goodie bags (more on this below).
One night was extra special as it was in aid of Coppafeel!, the charity that does an amazing job of reminding us to check our boobs, (blog on them coming soon.)
Thank you to all who came and we have big plans for another one soon.
CHARRED SQUASH WITH BURRATA AND LOVEAGE OIL
I first cooked this on a hot and heavy day last summer. It’s now a meal I so regularly dream of that I had to come up with an autumn-friendly version. There’s something amazing about lovage – such a verdant flavour. If you can’t get hold of it, try a mixture of parsley and celery leaves.
A small bunch of lovage (or a mixture of parsley and celery leaves)
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt and black pepper
About 500g butternut or other squash
2 balls of mozzarella or burrata
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Carefully peel and deseed your squash and cut it into slices about 1cm in thickness. Steam the squash for 10 minutes until cooked but still holding its shape.
Make the lovage oil. Fill a bowl with boiling water. Plunge the lovage into it, scoop out immediately and immerse in a bowl of cold water to cool. Then pat dry with kitchen paper. This keeps the lovage green.
Put the lovage in a food processor or blender, add the extra-virgin olive oil and a small pinch of salt, then blend until really smooth. Sieve the oil to get rid of any big bits of herb, then transfer to a jar and set aside.
When the squash is nearly done, heat your griddle pan until it’s smoking hot. Once the griddle is hot, griddle your squash on both sides until nicely charred.
Serve the charred squash on a platter next to the burrata torn open, finished with a good pinch of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper, and a good drizzle of the lovage oil.
Images: Issy Croker bar the menu, Jess Lea-Wilson