These easy Spiced Nuts are roasted in the oven with cumin, turmeric, brown sugar, soy sauce and lots of chilli. This recipe is based on one for Spiced Nuts in Sarah Raven’s brilliant Complete Christmas. However, I’ve changed the spices a bit, upped the chilli and substituted some of the other ingredients to make my recipe vegan.
I always need to have some kind of nibble when I have a glass of wine or other alcoholic drink. Sometimes, I go for crisps, sometimes olives or cheese biscuits, but my all-time favourite snack is nuts. This recipe for Spiced Nuts is fantastic because it combines a big hit of chilli, which I love, with the umami of the soy sauce, a hint of sweetness from the sugar and the based note of the spices. You can add extra salt when the nuts have been roasted but, in my view, this is not necessary due to the use of the soy sauce.
If you have only every eaten ready-roasted, salted nuts, I strongly encourage you to try roasting your own. It is so easy to do and means that the nuts are seriously crunchy and delicious. Also, like these Spice Nuts, you can add the flavourings that you love and control the amount of salt.
My Butternut Squash Tart with Chilli and Sage is a great summer tart which can be served either hot or cold. I came up with the idea for this recipe as an alternative to the Caramelised Onion Tart that is a regular family supper. I wanted to do something that had a similar sweetness but which was also a bit different.
The resulting tart uses butternut squash, which is slow-cooked to enhance its natural sweetness, and then gives it a bit of extra zing with the addition of chilli and sage. Both are good companions to squash – the chilli cuts through the sweetness and the sage gives it a savoury depth of flavour.
Don’t be alarmed by the chilli! The amount involved is relatively small but really does pep up the tart. My children have varying views on chilli (ranging from “Carolina Reaper for breakfast, please” to “Yeeeuch”) but they all like this tart.
I like to serve this tart with my Red Slaw – to keep the bright colour thing going! They taste good together – the fresh crunchiness of the slaw goes well with the sweet-savoury tart – and they also look pretty!
Large, heavy frying pan, quiche or flan dish (28 cm)
In this tart, the sweetness of butternut squash is tempered by the heat of chilli and the aromatic sage. The bright yellow squash also makes it look very attractive. The tart can be eaten either hot or cold, which makes it great for picnics or cold buffets.
For the pastry:
275 g plain flour
125 g fat (I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
A little water
For the filling:
1 butternut squash
40 g butter and 1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
Half a fresh red chilli (you can add more or less depending on how much you like chilli)
2 cloves of garlic
3–4 sage leaves
100 ml double cream
75 g strong cheddar cheese (grated)
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl. Add the fat and combine – either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
Peel and chop the onions. Peel and chop the butternut squash into small cubes.
Heat the butter and oil in your frying pan. It helps if the pan is good quality with a thick bottom as this will disseminate the heat evenly and prevent burning.
Add the chopped onions and cubed butternut squash to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook at a very low heat for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are not burning and stir occasionally. They will be done when the onions and squash cubes are soft and, when tasted, are sweet.
Finely chop the chilli, garlic cloves and the sage leaves and add to the onion and squash mixture. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly.
Roll out your pastry and use it to line your quiche or flan dish. Bake for 5 minutes in the oven to allow the pastry to “set”. This will stop the filling making it soggy.
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the cream, and beat until combined. Finely grate the cheddar cheese and add to the mixture.
Now place the onion and squash mixture in your pastry case. Pour the egg mixture over it.
Place your quiche or flan dish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
The tart can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold.
Filo Triangles with two fillings – “Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb” and “Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut”
These filo triangles are really easy to make and can be served hot or cold. I generally make a batch of 14 filo Triangles – half with each filling as they complement each other. The “Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb” filling is creamy, salty and allows the flavour of your chosen herbs to sing out. The “Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut” filling is rich and sweet with a buzz of heat with texture provided by the pinenuts.
Both versions make a great lunch or supper, and are really good in lunch boxes and on picnics. They are also fancy enough to be served for dinner parties or more formal occasions. If I am trying to impress, I serve them with a Green Salad with Edible Flowers. This is easy (and beautiful!). Just take salad leaves such as lambs lettuce, maybe add additional bits such as cucumber or avocado – I tend to stick to green things so flowers are obvious – and dress with vinaigrette. Scatter edible flowers, such as violas or primroses, on top.
These crispy filo triangles, filled with tasty vegetarian fillings, make a great lunch or supper.
Ingredients: Filo Triangles
1 packet of filo pastry (270 g or 7 sheets)
100 g butter (melted)
Filling: Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut
Half a butternut squash
1 red onion
Salt and pepper
75 g feta cheese
Half a fresh red chilli (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
50 g pinenuts (roasted)
Filling: Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb
75 g feta cheese
75 g cream cheese
A large bunch of mixed, fresh herbs to taste (parsley, basil, chives, fennel fronds)
I spring onion
Black pepper to taste
Method – Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb filling
Crumble the feta into a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.
Finely chop the mixed herbs and spring onion and add to the cheese mixture. Season with black pepper (no need for salt as feta is very salty).
Method – Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut filling
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Peel your butternut squash and chop into small chunks (around 2 cm). (You will only need half of the squash for the filling but I generally roast it all and serve the other half of the chunks as an accompaniment.) Cut the red onion into quarters leaving the skin on. Put the squash chunks and onion pieces on a baking tray, sprinkle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Roughly mash the butternut squash. Remove the skin from the onion and roughly chop and combine with the butternut squash in a mixing bowl. Crumble the feta cheese into the bowl with the vegetables. Add the finely chopped red chilli, the crushed garlic and the roasted pinenuts.
Method – Assembling the Filo Triangles
Cut each filo sheet in half lengthways and brush all over with melted butter. Put a spoonful of the filling at one end of the filo strip, and fold into triangles so that it is encased in several layers of filo.
Put the filled filo triangles on a baking sheet and brush the top of each with melted butter.
When you have made all your filo triangles, return the baking tray to the oven and cook at 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes.
Remove the filo triangles from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. They can be eaten hot, warm or at room temperature.
Keywords: filo pastry triangles, butternut squash, feta, chilli