A highlight for me after travelling is coming home to my kitchen to cook. I went through all my cookbooks the other night, made a list of everything I wanted to try this spring/summer and I’m holding myself to it. This Roasted Squash Laksa Bake caught my eye from Jamie Oliver’s Every Day Super Food cookbook – it’s a hearty meal packed with loads of vitamins and flavour. I changed a few things according to my taste and I have to say, overall I was really pleased with this dish, every spoonful was satisfying and I had a ton of leftovers for the week ahead!
Roasted Squash Laksa Bake with Chicken Lemongrass and Brown Rice (serves 4 – adapted from Jamie Oliver)
3 sticks of lemongrass
3 cloves of garlic
4 inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 fresh red chillies
3 spring onions
1 big bunch of fresh coriander (60g)
1/3 cup coconut milk
white wine vinegar
1 really good chicken stock cube
1/2 cup mixed brown and wild or brown rice
1/4 cup quinoa
1 butternut squash (1.2kg)
1 red pepper sliced into 2 inch strips
2 free-range chicken thighs, bone in (or if you prefer white meat, use two chicken breast, bone in)
1 tablespoon unsalted cashews or peanuts
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Bash the lemongrass and remove the outer layers, peel the garlic and ginger, trim the chiles and scallions. Roughly chop lemongrass, chilies and scallions and place in a blender. Reserving a few nice leaves for garnish, add the bunch of cilantro, along with the coconut milk and a good splash each of vinegar and fish sauce. Pulse until smooth, adding splashes of water until you have a nice spoon-able consistency, to make a laksa paste.
In a 12-inch shallow ovenproof casserole pan or oven proof dish crumble the bouillon cube and stir in 3 cups of boiling water to dissolve it, then add the rice,quinoa and red pepper. Carefully slice two-four 1 1/2-inch thick rounds off the bulbous seedy end of the squash and spoon out the seeds. Remove and discard the chicken skin. On a plate, massage a third of the laksa paste into the squash and chicken, then place them in among the rice. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, then bake for 1 hour 30 minutes, until golden.
Just before serving, lightly toast the cashews, then grind using a mortar and pestle. Serve the laksa bake sprinkled with cashews, your shredded chicken, reserved cilantro leaves, and lime wedges. Pairs nicely with a fresh salad or a dollop of tzatziki.