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I am in love with paneer cheese - it's my go-to when we have Indian food (yes, apparently even when I'm having a curry I still gravitate towards cheese...). I'm usually very unimaginative, and I have saag paneer (paneer with spinach) every single time we get a take away curry. I like to tell myself it's a good way to compare the quality of different restaurants, but in truth I just absolutely love the stuff.
However, since this time I was cooking at home, I decided to use my paneer for something a bit different - sticking with the autumnal theme, I made paneer stuffed butternut squash!
If you've never had paneer, it's a very mild-tasting cheese, which is why it goes so well with bold Indian spices. You can cut the cheese into cubes, but this time I crumbled it up to give a stuffing mixture that was easy to scoop into the butternut squash halves. I flavoured the mixture with cumin, ground coriander and turmeric, and also added some spring onions, garlic, and some tomatoes to keep things nice and juicy.
Although the paneer stuffing is the star of this recipe, the roasted butternut squash itself can't be forgotten! The top side becomes slightly sweet as it caramelises in the heat of the oven (look at those crispy bits!), and the flesh becomes as soft as butter (and I don't mean butter that's been in the fridge...). Scooping a fork or spoon through the tender squash and then into the spiced paneer is just heaven!
My butternut squash was fairly big, so half a squash each was plenty for a main course - make sure you don't choose a squash that's too enormous, especially if you're planning on serving it with some side dishes! You could even make this dish into an appetiser if you choose a couple of very small squashes, splitting the paneer filling into four portions instead of two.
By the way, don't forget to drizzle the spiced yogurt on top! It adds a wonderful creaminess to the dish and keeps it moist - and a good handful of fresh coriander on top is pretty great too.
What do you reckon - a good vegetarian option for a slightly alternative Thanksgiving?
Paneer stuffed butternut squash with spiced yogurt
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- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Black pepper
For the paneer stuffing:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 225 g paneer cheese
- 3 spring onions sliced
- ~12 cherry tomatoes quartered or roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 tablespoon fresh coriander chopped
- 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoon fresh coriander chopped
- Wash the skin of the butternut squash thoroughly, and cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Rub both sides of the two halves with a little oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F), skin side down, for around an hour, or until the flesh is fairly soft.
- While the squash is roasting, heat 1tbsp of oil in a frying pan, and add the garlic, paneer, spring onions, tomatoes and spices. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is fragrant. Add a few tablespoon of fresh coriander, and set aside.
- When the squash is ready, scoop out a small amount of the flesh from the area around where the seeds were, and add it to the paneer mixture. Mix well, and spoon the stuffing back into the squash halves. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- Add the ¼ teaspoon of cumin and ¼ teaspoon of ground coriander to the yogurt, and mix well.
- When the stuffed squash is ready, serve it topped with the spiced yogurt and more fresh coriander. The skin is perfectly edible, but you might want to just scoop out the flesh if it feels a bit tough.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.
Nupur Mehra says
Glad you liked Paneer Becca ! Its like Vegetarian Indians' Meat. We love it in every form. did you know that there are so many desserts made using Paneer in India? Try searching with "paneer sweets" if you are interested. They are easy to make (mostly) and super tasty!
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche says
I've never had paneer in a dessert! Interesting!
Jeanne Horak-Druiff says
I am not a massive fan of paneer, but with all these other flavours going on I could forgive its mildness ;) I *do* love butternut squash though - I often stuff mine with feta and spinach.
Cheese and butternut are a marriage made in heaven! I made something fairly similar, but with feta rather than paneer, the other day, and blogged about it.
Sarah (@tamingtwins) says
Becca, this looks so beautiful and right up my street. I'm not vegetarian, but I also often order Saag Paneer, I make it lots at home too. Paneer and halloumi are two of my favourite things in the food world.. Squeaky cheese for the win! I've never crumbled it though, always fried or grilled it, will definitely be trying this. Thank you!
Jan @GlugofOil says
Oh my word - this looks truly stunning. I could eat this right now!!
Oh heavens that looks AMAZING! I just want to jump into those photos with a fork and start scoffing! I've never tried paneer. I must remedy this.
Cameron Tulaba says
Actually, i prefer soup as being health conscious, but this time i will try this Paneer stuffed butternut squash first. It seems yummy at very first look. Coconut and butternut squash soup will be second this time.
Jen @ Blue Kitchen Bakes says
I've never tried paneer and now I feel like I'm missing out as this looks absolutely delicious.
This looks so pretty as well as so tasty. I love the idea of a smaller version of it as a starter too - what a great idea.