Butternut Squash with Tulsi ‘Holy Basil’ Chutney

I was going to call this ‘Butternut Squash with Holy Basil Pesto’ but I decided not to because: Why- when we contextualize Eastern flavors- do we always have to put a Western reference on it? Europeans are not the only people who blend herbs with nuts to produce mind-blowing sauces. In a way,  And of course, chutney is not just a jammy-something you have with toast. I remember a friend of ours was very weirded out by me telling her the chutney we made her was to be eaten with a curry. She gave it back to us without trying it, apologizing profusely, saying she isn’t into curry. I made it again a few months later (unbeknownst to her), called it pesto this time and she did not hesitate to try it on some pasta. I get it. We shy away from things we don’t recognize unless they are presented in a familiar form. So this is why we must normalize all foods, in all their varieties, giving credit and actual cultural context, even if it means teaching someone a little something. And so, friends, I bring you Butternut Squash with Tulsi Chutney, god dang it! This is a very indulgent tasting dish but super healthy, flavourful, vegan and gluten free! And the chutney itself can be made with a variety or combination of different herbs depending on availability and taste. Have fun experimenting. You can’t really go wrong.

Butternut Squash with Tulsi ‘Holy Basil’ Chutney

Serves 4 as a shared dish

1 large Butternut Squash, about 1.3kg/3lbs

1large Onion, thinly sliced

Chutney:

150g fresh Tulsi leaves and/or basil, cilantro, mint or a combo of (if you don’t have the right amount you can add other types of basil or even cilantro)

2 Green Chilies

50g Peanuts (or Cashews or Almonds- both will work but will all taste slightly different)

4 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup Lime juice (lemon will also work)

1 tsp Sea Salt

2 tsp Palm Sugar (or brown sugar)

To make the chutney, place all the ingredients in a blended or food processor and blitz it, using water to help it along. It should be smooth, something similar to a blended Salsa Verde. Of course you should choose your preferred consistency. Taste and add more salt of needed. Add more citrus if you like something more acidic. Put it into the fridge in a jar for later.

Leaving the skin on, halve your squash, scoop out the seeds and cut it into about  1/4″-1/2″ thick wedges, depending on your preference. Coat lightly with a drizzles of olive oil and toss in a couple pinches of salt.

Preheat to oven to 350F and bake the squash for about 30-35 minutes or until tender. Turn them halfway through.

While the squash is baking, thinly sliced your onions and caramelize them in a pan with 2-3 Tbsp of canola oil and a tsp of sugar over medium low to low heat until clear, golden and….well, caramelized. About 20 min.

When the squash it done, transfer the pieces to a serving plate. Get out your chutney and drizzle it all over the pile of squash. Use as much as you want. We go a bit crazy with it. Then top with your caramelized onions and serve. It also goes great when served with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a simple rice pilaf! Ps the night we made this, we also rubbed some sea salt into shiso flower buds and sprinkled them on top for an extra herbaceous layer of flavor! Just an fyi for you.

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