This week's recipe is my version of a Butternut Squash Pilaf that I saw on Masterchef Australia. I'm watching it at the moment and I'm way behind so no spoilers please. It's such a great cookery show. The contestants are unbelievably talented, it gets all the famous chefs and everyone is just so flipping nice on it. Althought I'd recommend watching it recorded so you can fast forward the parts where the judges ask the contestants about their culinary hopes and dreams. This part is way too emotional for my liking. Watch it with a notepad and pen in hand so you can jot down all the delicious ideas they come up with. Some of the nicest things I've made have been as a result of ingredient combinations and methods I saw on Masterchef.

This recipe is for Butternut Squash Pilaf with Yogurt and Pomegranate. On Masterchef Selina (the contestant that made it) served it with a saffron jus and quail. Obviously there's no quail in my recipe and I've added roast chickpeas instead for protein. And instead of the saffron jus, I've served it with greek yogurt. This couldn't be easier to make. There are basically two parts to the recipe. The first part involves roasting the squash and chickpeas in the oven. The second part is cooking the onion, garlic, spices and rice in stock. Give yourself time to cook the onions for ten to fifteen minutes so they are nicely caramelised. Combine the two parts and you have Butternut Squash Pilaf. To serve add some yogurt, pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs.

Keep scrolling for the recipe and please let me know if you try it at home x

Butternut Squash Pilaf with Yogurt and Pomegranate

(Serves 4-6)


1 butternut squash

1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

300g brown rice, rinsed

3 white onions, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cinnamon

10 pods cardamom

600ml vegetable stock

Black pepper and sea salt

1 cup greek yogurt

Seeds of half a pomegranate

Small handful of fresh mint and parsley


Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas 5. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Thinly slice each half of the squash. There is no need to peel the squash. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on two baking sheets. Place in the oven to heat for a few minutes before removing and placing the slices of squash on the two trays. It's best to use two trays so as to allow space between each slice. This helps the squash to roast and caramelise properly. Using a brush coat each butternut squash slice with the heated oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper and place in the oven to roast. After fifteen minutes, add the chickpeas to the baking sheets dividing them between the two. Return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes or until the squash is cooked and slightly caramelised.

White the squash is roasting, move onto the pilaf. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion slices and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes until they are caramelised. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further two minutes. Add the rice and cook for a minutes before adding the vegetable stock. Bring to as simmer and reduce heat. Cover and leave to cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the stock is absorbed, checking occasionally. Remove from the heat and use a fork to fluff up the rice.

Add the roasted butternut squash and chickpeas to the pilaf and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Stir well to combine.

To serve, tip the butternut squash pilaf on to a serving dish. Top with chopped herbs, dollops of greek yogurt and pomegranate seeds.

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DESIGNED BY Frances Walsh 

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