Hasselback is a technique originating from Hasselbacken, a restaurant in Stockholm where the dish is alleged to have been first served, using potatoes, which were sliced at intervals but kept connected at the base, and then roasted in clarified butter until crispy on the outside but soft and tender within.
Over the years I have found this brilliant technique to work on a number of different vegetables, including swede, sweet potato as well as certain types of mushroom, but I think my favourite discovery was when using butternut squash. The squash caramelizes beautifully, and becomes a meltingly sweet, unctuous mass of flesh underneath a delightfully chewy outer skin that is devilishly moreish and completely irresistible.
4 or 5 shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthways
Olive oil, to cover
A few garlic cloves, smashed
A few rosemary sprigs
80g walnuts, toasted
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeded & finely chopped
120g Greek-style yoghurt
½ bunch of coriander, shredded
Juice of half a lemon
HASSELBACK BUTTERNUT SQUASH
1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthways
80g unsalted butter
120ml olive oil
Some rosemary & thyme sprigs
150g walnut tarator
4 confit shallots
2 tbsp toasted rice, ground to a coarse crumb
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
A few picked sprigs of tarragon
FOR THE CONFIT SHALLOTS
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas mark 4.
2. Place the shallots in a roasting pan and completely cover with olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary and cover the pan tightly with tin foil crimped at the edges.
3. Roast the shallots for 45 minutes to an hour until tender but not falling apart.
FOR THE WALNUT TARATOR
1. Remove the skin from the walnuts by rubbing them briskly, then chop to a medium crumb, retaining some texture, which is important.
2. Combine the chopped walnuts with the rest of the ingredients, fold through and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt & black pepper.
FOR THE HASSELBACK BUTTERNUT SQUASH
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas mark 6.
1. Make incisions into each butternut squash half, at intervals of roughly 2mm, about two-thirds of the way into the flesh and along its entire length.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, rosemary and thyme sprigs and cook for a few minutes to infuse.
3. Dip and roll each squash half in the butter so that they’re generously coated. Lay the them alongside the other in a cast-iron pan or roasting tray, season generously with salt and black pepper, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, basting regularly with the excess butter mix. The squash should caramelize as it roasts and become soft and unctuous.
4. Once cooked all the way through and meltingly soft, transfer the squash to a plate and garnish with a dollop of walnut tarator, some confit shallots and sprinkle with ground toasted rice and pumpkin seeds. Finish the dish with some picked tarragon leaves.