Chicken & Squash Tagine

I am writing this as I’m eating last night’s squash curry and I really can’t help but share my love for all things pumpkin and squash in this season. It is just so versatile and goes so well with a big array of dishes and spices in general. So in spirit of my current craving for comfort food and stews, today I’m sharing this lovely tagine that requires very little faff. This is perfect for a weekend dinner, though you can make it during the week if you have more time as well.

Those of you who follow my instagram will know that I had a bit of drama with my freezer a couple of weekends ago which prompted a cookathon of defrosted foods… including a fair bit of chicken, lamb, mince and so on. This is one of the dishes I made on the day and it went down a treat!

This is originally a Waitrose recipe card recipe which I have adapted slightly.

More North African inspired food: Lamb tagine with dates & sweet potatoes | Fish and root vegetable tagine | Charred Aubergine, pepper and bulgur salad

Chicken & Squash Tagine


Serves 4-6 | Prep 20 mins + resting | Cook 2 hrs
Easy | Dairy-Free

You’ll need:

  • olive oil
  • 4 x chicken thighs;
  • 4 x chicken drumsticks;
  • 2 onions, sliced;
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped;
  • 2 tsp ground cumin;
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout;
  • 2 preserved lemons, flesh discarded and peel finely sliced;
  • 225g jar pitted queen olives, drained;
  • 28g pack coriander, roughly chopped;
  • 25g pack flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped;
  • 700g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks;
  • 2 chicken stock cubes;
  • 320g wholewheat couscous.

Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Put a large, wide casserole over a medium heat and add a couple of table spoons olive oil, covering the entire base. Season the chicken and fry skin-side down for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Tip: if you add salt to the oil it shouldn’t spray as much.

Remove the pan from the heat and lift the chicken out onto a plate. Add a little more oil, if needed, and add the onion to the casserole, season, and toss. Top with the garlic, spices, lemon peel, olives, most of the herbs (use the stem ends here and reserve the leafy parts to garnish) and the squash. Dilute one of the stock cubes in 400ml just-boiled water and pour over the top, then nestle in the chicken pieces, skin-side up. Cover (with a lid) and bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes, until cooked thoroughly with no pink meat and the juices run clear.

Take out of the oven and rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Dilute the remaining stock cube in 650 ml of water. In a large bowl, add the couscous and pour over the stock. Let it rest for a few minutes (follow pack instructions). Fluff up with a fork then divide between 4 plates. Top with the tagine and sprinkle over the remaining herbs.

Original recipe from MyWaitrose, available online here.

Vegan chickpea & squash ‘meat’ balls with vegan mayo

My food philosophy is simple – I just want to cook and eat food that excites me and others. And while I’m mostly an omnivore (with the exception of mushrooms….), I love eating and trying a diverse range of foods. I always get really excited about vegan cooking in particular though, because vegetables & pulses have so much to offer and can taste really amazing. I am a particularly big fan of preparing and eating food that’s naturally vegan and not trying to imitate say bacon or sausages… The Ottolenghi Root Vegetable Stew I uploaded a few days ago and these ‘meat’ balls are a true testament of that. They go with a delicious vegan mayo too and that’s a recipe I’ll be using anytime I need vegan mayo! I adapted this recipe from a Bulgarian magazine Menu by making it gluten-free, clarifying the recipe a little bit and making it a little simpler.

More vegan recipes on the blog: Root Vegetable StewChickpea, tomato and spinach curry, Cauliflower fritters and Quick spinach, sweet potato and coconut stew.

Vegan chickpea & squash ‘meat’ balls with vegan mayo

Serves 4 | Prep 15 mins | Cook 50 mins
Easy | Gluten and Dairy-free | Vegan


You’ll need:

  • Olive oil;
  • 500g squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 cm cubes;
  • 1 leek, finely chopped;
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed;
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped;
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped;
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin.

For the vegan mayo:

  • 1 cup sunflower oil;
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soya milk;
  • 1/3 tsp lemon juice;
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard;
  • 1/3 tsp salt;
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed.

First, cook the squash. Heat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas mark 7. Put the squash in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive and season. Cover with foil and cook for 20-25 mins until cooked through and soft. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a deep frying pan and cook the leek on medium heat until soft. Add the chickpeas, the cooked squash, sundried tomatoes, chilli cumin and season. Stir well. Once the ingredients have warmed through, take the pan away from the heat. Using a potato masher, mash the ingredients together into a rough mash.

Allow the cool slightly until it’s cool enough to handle. Start to farm meatballs from the mixture – put a couple of tbsp of the mixture in your palm and form a meatball slightly bigger than a golf ball. Repeat until you’ve used the whole mixture. Plate in a roasting tin, drizzle with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vegan mayo. Add all ingredients into a blender and mix in a low setting for a few seconds. You are looking for a thick, mayo-like consistency so just pulse it until you get there – this shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds.

Serve the chickpea meatballs with the vegan mayo, some fresh salad and flatbreads.

Adapted from Menu magazine, available online in Bulgarian here.

Squash, Taleggio and Sage pizza

Making pizza at home can be quicker than you think. I’ve used a Ciabatta bread mix for the base of my pizza here, which created a Roman style pizza – a bit deeper and doughier. The roasted squash and melted taleggio cheese were a delicious combination on the pizza. If you prefer a non-vegetarian version, I’ve added a version with pancetta as well. This recipe does take a little bit of time so it’s not necessarily the best when you want something on the table in half an hour, but if that’s the case, you can also buy a ready made pizza base from your local shop to speed things up.

Squash, Taleggio and Sage pizza

Makes 1 pizza | Prep 20 minutes + 20 minutes resting time | Cook 40 mins
A little effort | Meat-free

Pumpkin, sage and taleggio pizza

Tip: You can save a bit of time and effort by using a ready made pizza base.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 a 500g pack ciabatta bread mix;
  • plain flour for dusting;
  • 175g pumpkin or squash, cut into wedges;
  • olive oil;
  • 150g passata;
  • 1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste;
  • 1 tsp garlic puree;
  • 1 tsp dried oregano;
  • pinch of dried chilli;
  • 77g pancetta (optional);
  • small handful sage leaves;
  • 50g taleggio cheese, sliced.

Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.

First make the dough. Following the pack instructions, mix the ciabatta bread mix. Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. Form a ball and transfer in an oiled glass bowl. Cover with cling film, which is slightly oiled from the inside, and leave to rest somewhere dark and warm for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the squash.  Put the squash wedges in a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a little salt. Mix well. Roast for about 25 minutes or until the squash has cooked through.

Next, prepare the tomato sugo. Mix the passata, sun dried tomato paste, garlic puree, oregano and, chilli and sea salt to taste. If you are using pancetta, you can also cook this now – add a little olive oil to a heated pan and fry the pancetta until slightly crispy (about 5 minutes).


At this point, add the tray you are going to use for the pizza to the oven. Roll out your dough to a large circle. Transfer to a sheet of baking paper which is slightly larger than your pizza base. Spread the tomato sugo, top with the taleggio cheese, followed by the sage leaves, pumpkin wedges and pancetta (if using). Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the base has cooked through.

This is my own recipe so please do let me know how you like it and if you have any feedback!




Lentil, squash, halloumi and bacon salad

I made this salad for a lovely light lunch when working from home one day. With little preparation required, it’s perfect for a simple meal when you don’t have much time to be preparing food. The combination of halloumi, bacon, squash, red onion and lentils is fantastic as it is, but elevated even further by adding dukkah pomegranate seeds. For a vegetarian option, you can just omit the bacon. As far as salads go, you really don’t have to do much convincing when you mention halloumi and/or bacon…

Lentil, squash and za’atar halloumi salad

Serves 2 | Prepare 5 minutes | Cook 30 minutes | Gluten-free , Vegetarian| Easy


You’ll need
  • 250g frozen butternut squash, defrosted and cut into bite-sized chunks;
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges;
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar;
  • 250g pack ready-to-eat puy lentils;
  • 2 handfuls spinach;
  • 1/2 pomegranate seeds;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 125g halloumi cut in 6 slices;
  • 4 slices smoked bacon (optional).

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Toss the squash and onion in a large roasting tray with 1 tbsp olive oil, season. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining oil with the vinegar and season. Tip in the lentils, warm veg, spinach and most of the pomegranate. Mix gently.

Heat frying pan over a medium heat. Scatter the cumin and Za’atar over the halloumi and fry for 2 minutes on each side. If you are using bacon, you can fry it too at this point. Divide the salad between two plates, top with the halloumi and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate.

Original recipe from myWaitrose magazine, issue April 2013, not available online.