This is one of the first vegan things I attempted to cook – I wasn’t actually vegan at the time, but I’d just started dating one and was looking for ways to tick that “the way to his heart is through his stomach” box (this dish *totally* helped).
There are a few elements, but I’d say none of them are especially demanding in terms of time, effort, or skill, and at the end of it you get a huge, satisfying, nutritionally ACE meal that has satisfied even the fussiest omnivores and vegans alike.
You can prep the butternut squash ahead of time, and then whip up the other two elements whilst it’s in the oven.
I serve mine with guacamole, a quick tomato salsa, and salad. I’ll mention how I do those at the end, but I suspect you have your own go-to recipes and who am I to change them (or to tell you how to make a salad)?
The fillings I use are:
- Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash
- ‘Red Rice’ (roasted red pepper)
- Black Beans
Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- Coriander Seeds
- Garlic (ideally smoked) – at least two cloves, but this household has a 4 clove minimum!
- Dried Chilli – at least 1, but the squash is sweet enough to take a fair old hit of spice. I do 3.
- Grated nutmeg
This is slightly adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s first book. To be honest, I change up the spice mix depending on what I have in the cupboard, what else I’m serving it with, and who I’m cooking for. This dish also makes a great side dish for a roast, with sausages, or thrown into a risotto or a salad.
Preheat the oven to 180c
Peel the squash and cut it in half. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and pulpy bit. There’s a kind of sweet spot where the texture changes, so if you can find this with the side of your spoon, the seeds and all their gunk comes out in one easy go. If you can’t, just keep scraping until the inside of the hole is the same colour as the rest of the flesh.
Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes (if you’re doing this as a side dish, it’s really nice to do big wedges the length of the squash, but they don’t fit well into a wrap situation!).
Throw the squash into a mixing bowl and drizzle on a generous couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Bash the coriander seeds in a pestle & mortar, and then throw the (peeled) garlic and the dried chillis in too. Bash them all up a bit.
Chuck the mixture into the bowl with the squash, and salt and pepper, grate on some nutmeg and toss it all around with your hands until everything is coated. The longer you leave this to sit and infuse, the better. If you can manage to do it in the morning before going about your business (cover it, obviously) then you’ll have extra tasty squash at the end.
20-30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, tip the whole contents of the bowl onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Check after 20, in case the squash is catching and needs an oil top up. I like my squash soft, with browned/caramelised edges. Delicious.
- 1 cup rice
- 1 or 2 romero red peppers (the long thin ones)
- Smoked paprika
- 2 tbsps tomato puree
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
This is something I sort of blagged the first time, and then it was so tasty I’ve made it loads of times since. It is SO easy.
Preheat the oven to 180c (if your squash is already in, move the squash to a lower shelf and pop the peppers on the top shelf)
Cook the rice as you usually would (for me, this is 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of cold water. Put the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Add salt and cover, leave for 14 minutes. Do not remove the lid until the end of the time (and yes, I mean 14. Not 15, trust me)!
Whilst the rice is cooking, coat the peppers in a little bit of olive oil, and put in the oven at 180c, with a bit of seasoning on top.
When the peppers are soft and have started to go ever so slightly browned around the edges, they’re ready for the next stage. This should take about 10 minutes, 15 at a push. Lift them (gently, they’ll be fragile!) into a plastic sandwich bag and seal it. Leave this for a few minutes – the steam inside the bag separates the flesh from the skins, which can be a little tough, and makes it easy for you to skin the peppers, remove the seeds and stalk, and throw them into a blender.
Add the tomato puree, smoked paprika, and a touch of olive oil to loosen the mixture, and blitz to a smooth paste. Season to taste.
Stir the paste through the cooked rice, et voila!
- 2x 400g tins of black beans
- at least 2 cloves of garlic (I’m more of a 4 girl myself)
- 2 shallots, or 1 red onion
- Smoked salt (if you can’t get hold of it, normal salt is fine) & pepper
- Smoked paprika (if you don’t like too much smokiness, go standard on either the paprika or the salt!)
- 2 tbsps tomato puree
- Olive oil
Drain and rinse 1 of the tins of black beans and put it in the blender (sorry, you’ll have to wash your blender up at least once to do all 3 items, unless you have 2!).
Add the garlic, shallots, tomato puree, salt, pepper and paprika. Add a bit of olive oil to loosen it up and blitz to a paste.
Tip the paste into a saucepan and fry. If it sticks right away, add a touch more olive oil. you want to cook out the onions in this stage, so give it five minutes or so. You’ll need to keep stirring so it doesn’t go sticky just yet.
Once the onions have cooked (this won’t take too long, as they’ve been blitzed in the blender) add the other tin of beans, including the liquid. Combine fully and turn down to a simmer. You want these to be sticky rather than runny, but you don’t want them to burn. If they’re already pretty solid, add a bit of water so you can simmer them for a bit and let the flavours come together.
I serve these with:
A tomato salsa – super simple, just fresh tomatoes and a red onion diced up finely and placed in a bowl with fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, and fresh chopped coriander leaves. This provides some much needed freshness to cut through all the delicious smoky stodge in the recipes above!
A crisp salad – I try and get some fresh greens in pretty much every meal, and these will provide some much needed crunch. Depends on what I’ve got in – some cos or little gem lettuce, cucumber, and even grated raw beetroot all go really well in this dish. Throw on some toasted pumpkin seeds if you want some extra crunch or protein.
Guacamole – as if you can have a burrito without guac! I prefer a simple guac, so mine is just mashed up avocado, fresh lime, salt and pepper. I make it ahead of time so I can chill it a bit before serving
I buy my tortilla wraps because life is too short (just double-check they don’t have milk or milk-products in). My wrap technique is to fill a strip in the centre of the wrap, leaving a good 3 inches clear at the bottom. I fold up that clear bottom part first, then bring the sides round. It’s not foolproof, but it’s my tried and tested method as a tiny-handed greedy person 🙂
This is one of my absolute favourite dinners, and is quick enough to do on a weeknight (especially if you have a helper to do some chopping and washing up for you along the way) – there’s nothing better than unwrapping a leftover burrito for lunch on a drab Wednesday 🙂