Stuffed Squash

On Monday I attended the charity pub quiz at The Actress to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease. Quizteama Aguilera, despite our exemplary knowledge of lost 90s britpop tunes, did not manage to wint he quiz but, due to the generosity of local people and businesses there were a number of prizes, so we came away with vouchers for MEATLiquor, which we will all very much enjoy spending.  The pub’s landlord, Neil, is also running the marathon for this cause. His JustGiving page can be found here.

Due to a few Monday-night G&Ts and a full-on fridge raid when I got home, I have been trying to eat relatively healthily for the rest of the week, especially with the first fitting of the wedding dress looming.  A lone round of goats cheese in my fridge was threatening to jeopardise this, particularly due to its proximity to a jar of home-made red onion chutney and half a packet of crackers.  If I didn’t turn this into a meal, the temptation to have yet another midnight snack would be too high.

This week, the John Lewis Food Hall had a delightful basket of various different kinds of squash: pale butternuts, the teeny yellow ones and some beautifully vibrant orange acorn squashes. I popped one of the latter into my basket along with a leek, a red onion and some reduced-priced mushrooms.


Once home, I halved the squashes and scooped out the seeds and stringy mush from the centre, which left very deep scoops.  I scored the squash, rubbed it with olive oil and roasted in the oven for about half an hour until tender.  In a frying pan, I lightly sautéed the thinly sliced onion and leeks and finely chopped mushrooms in some butter, thyme, salt and the tiniest pinch of chilli flakes and used this to fill the cooked squash.  A crumble of the delightfully smelly goats cheese and a sprinkle of pine nuts later, it was ready to be returned to the oven for ten minutes.  The cheese melted and pine nuts lightly toasted, all it needed was a little drizzle of olive oil before eating in front of the TV.


Fiery Mirchi Salmon Wrap

Fiery Mirchi Salmon Wrap using sauce from the Vini and Bal's range

Fiery Mirchi Salmon Wrap using sauce from the Vini and Bal’s range

This week, spring arrived in London.  Of course, none of us have yet had the courage to venture out of the house without our coats as the London weather has a tendency to surprise us with a little cold snap when least expected but, as the old wives’ tale goes, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, so this is definitely a sign of good things to come.

Good weather and large lunches, for me, often go hand in hand.  With so many great places to eat around my office, and many with outside tables, there is no excuse for eating al desko, as I generally do throughout the whole of the winter.  Great Titchfield Street has been a hive of activity during lunch this week, with people sitting out on the street drinking coffee around the entrances of Kaffeine and Scandinavian Kitchen.  After work the crowds generally drift to the outside spaces of the nearby pubs.  This week I discovered Gitane, a lovely little middle eastern cafe that makes vibrant salads and beautiful-looking mini cakes.  I ordered the special of the day, which was a fillet of salmon marinated in harissa and yoghurt and topped with a sprinkling of black onion seeds, served with rice and green salad.  At £8.90 it was a little more than the average take-out lunch around here, but it was really delicious.

Lunch from Gitane, Great Titchfield Street:  harissa and yoghurt marinated salmon with rice and salad

Lunch from Gitane, Great Titchfield Street: harissa and yoghurt marinated salmon with rice and salad

Whilst on the subject of salmon, I wanted to share another recipe I have concocted with the Vini and Bal’s sauces.  After a large lunch, a light dinner is definitely in order especially when, like me, you will need to squeeze yourself into a wedding dress in the coming months.  I had a pot of the Vini and Bal’s Fiery Mirchi sauce in the fridge, that had always been intended for seafood of some kind, but now became destined to become part of a spicy salmon wrap, perfect for a light supper on a day you have overindulged more than is necessary. 

The Fiery Mirchi sauce is the spiciest in the Vini and Bal’s range, perfect if you live with a chilli fiend.  Although most traditional spicy curries use meat as their main ingredient, I always think that seafood lends itself well to a more intense level of heat.  In this wrap I have used a salmon fillet, cooked in the sauce until it gives it a thick coating.  By the end of the cooking, there is only a little bit of sauce left, which can be spooned over the wrap during its construction.  To add a little bit of sweetness, I have included a smear of mango chutney (a store-cupboard staple I could not live without), although you could use yoghurt or raita if you preferred.  I used wholemeal tortilla wraps for this recipe as that is what I could find at my local bakery, however an Indian flatbread, such as a chapatti would work equally well.

Fiery Mirchi Salmon Wrap
Makes two

  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • Olive oil
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 pot Vini and Bal’s Fiery Mirchi sauce
  • 2 wholemeal wraps, or chapattis (see above)
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney
  • 2 large handfuls salad leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ red chilli, finely chopped

Cook the rice according to packet instructions and set aside.

Heat the olive in in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.  Gently cook the salmon fillets, skin side down for a couple of minutes.  Add the Fiery Mirchi sauce and lower the heat to medium.  Continue to cook, spooning the sauce over the salmon fillets to coat them.  Gently turn the fillets to cook on each side, spooning the sauce over as you do so, until the salmon is fully cooked.  Be careful not to break up the fillet if possible.  This should take about 10 minutes or so and the sauce will have reduced a little.

Place the wholemeal wraps on to a plate.  Spread the mango chutney over the centre of the wrap and place the salad leaves and rice on top.  Gently place the salmon fillets on top of the salad leaves, in the centre of the wrap, and spoon over the remaining sauce from the frying pan.  Sprinkle over the chopped coriander and chilli and contruct the wrap by folding the bottom up over the filling and then folding over the sides.  The top should stay open.

More abut Vini and Bal’s here