A simple but filling autumnal dish of contrasting textures and temperatures – warm peppery squash and mushrooms on cool greens, with a crunchy topping.
Slice the squash crossways where the straight neck meets the bulbous end. Remove the peel and scoop out the seeds. Slice the rounded part lengthways into quarters, and then into crescents about 5mm/¼in thick. Halve the neck-end lengthways, then slice each half into thin semi-circles.
Heat the olive oil with the coriander seeds in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the squash slices in a single layer, in batches, turning with tongs, for 5–7 minutes or until lightly browned and tender-crisp. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and some of the crushed peppercorns. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a large sieve set over a bowl.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 5 minutes, adding some of the oil drained from the squash. Season with sea salt and the rest of the peppercorns. Return any drained oil to the pan. Stir in the stock and bubble down for a few seconds.
Arrange the spinach on plates. Pile the squash and mushrooms on top, then pour over the pan juices. Scatter over a few croûtons (make sure they are warm) before serving.
Replace the uncooked spinach with lightly steamed shredded kale, cavalo nero or Savoy cabbage. Serve with rice or lentils as a vegetarian main course.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.