Baked and bejewelled butternut squash, with halloumi

Baked butternut squash with halloumi

Baked butternut squash with halloumi

I feel I’ve been making a real effort with my eat less meat resolution so far. I know it’s only the 8th January, so this is hardly a triumph, but nevertheless I’m proud of myself for resisting the temptations of butter chicken and lamb biryani

This recipe gets its name from its beautiful end product: the rice-fruit-nut mixture that you stuff the squash halves with is a wonder to behold. It was inspired by one I found in the February edition of Red magazine. I’ve simplified it a bit – taking out some of the herbs and spices I don’t like or don’t have – and added halloumi, mainly because I have an open packet in the fridge, but I think it works rather well. The cheese goes nicely with the fruity sweetness of the rice mixture.

A fragrant and filling winter warmer, serve with wilted spinach on the side for extra virtuousness.


Ready to roast

Ready to roast

Serves 4 (depending on the size of your squash/appetite of your diners)

Cooking time 1 hr 45 mins


What you need

2 medium-sized butternut squash

Olive oil

3 garlic cloves, squashed and sliced in half

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, squashed and roughly chopped

1 cinnamon stick (2.5cm)

4 cardamom pods, sliced into

130g rice

40g dried apricots, roughly chopped

40g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

25g dried cranberries

A handful of coriander, chopped

A handful of dill, chopped

About 175g halloumi (or 8 thin slices)




How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C
  2. Next, prepare the squash. Slice in half lengthways, then scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp. Arrange side by side on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, rub with the sliced garlic cloves, leaving a chunk of garlic in each squash half. Sprinkle over salt and pepper, then cover the tin with foil and bake for 60 minutes or so. When ready, the squash flesh will be deep orange and soft to the point of a knife.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the rice. First, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauce pan and add the onion. Fry gently until golden and caramelised – about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining garlic and  the cinnamon and cardamom , and saute for a minute longer. Tip in the fruit and nuts, and stir again.
  5. Now add the rice. Stir to coat with oil, then add 300ml boiling water and half a vegetable stock cube. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until all the water is absorbed.
  6. While the rice is cooking, fry the halloumi. Cut into thin (1cm) slices, and lay in a hot frying pan. Fry until golden on each side, then remove from the heat.
  7. Once the rice and halloumi are cooked, remove the squash from the oven and carefully scoop out some of the flesh. You want to leave enough so that the squash doesn’t collapse on itself. Mix this into the rice, taking care not to mash it too much.
  8. Spoon the rice mixture back into the squash halves, lay the halloumi slices over the top, recover and return the baking tray to the oven for 10 minutes to heat through.
  9. Serve piping hot, with any leftover fresh herbs sprinkled on top.


For more things to do with halloumi and/or butternut squash: