I didn't taste winter squash until I was in university and the watery, tasteless mash the cafeteria served didn't impress. It was a few years before I tried it again, properly cooked this time, and started to appreciate its merits. As with most vegetables, Yotam Ottolenghi, the featured chef at I Heart Cooking Clubs, has a very special way with winter squash. I decided to challenge myself with Halloween Soufflés from the book Plenty, a recipe I've had bookmarked for a long time but avoided making since soufflés are rather intimidating to me.
They turned out to be much easier to make than I expected. The recipe began with the roasting and puréeing of fresh pumpkin.... more on that later. The next step was to make a basic béchamel
sauce. I cooked some minced garlic in the butter before adding the flour for the roux, then added the finished white sauce to the pumpkin purée along with egg yolks, cheese, herbs and seasonings. The egg whites were whipped to stiff peaks, folded in and the
mixture was baked in the prepared ramekins.
I made a few changes to the recipe, the most notable of which was to use this:
What can I say.....it was too early to see fresh pumpkins in the grocery store and the kabocha squash were simply not calling to me that day!
The other changes were governed by what I had on hand: I used Parmesan cheese instead of strong goat cheese, fresh thyme instead of marjoram, and I coated the buttered baking dishes with toasted ground walnuts left over from a baking project instead of hazelnuts.
These did not disappoint. They puffed nicely in the oven, had a light, airy texture and the flavour was well balanced with the sweetness of the pumpkin coming through. And coating the dishes with nuts was a nice touch...the bites with the walnuts were the best. With the tangy sour cream-chive topping, a great foil for the pumpkin, these were delicious.
If I hadn't already liked winter squash, this recipe would have made a convert of me!
This week's IHCC theme is You Made Me Love (or at Least Like) You!, focusing on foods we didn't like as children that we enjoy now. Visit to see what dislikes other members have overcome.
I'm also sharing this post with Cook-Your-Books, hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.