I have about a hundred books floating on my wish list at Amazon. And many of them are, unsurprisingly, cookbooks. So when a received a generous gift certificate from one of my sisters for birthday last month, you can imagine how thrilled I was…at first. At first, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Wide-eyed and drooling. Then, the anxiety creeps in because narrowing it down to one or two books is really really hard. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who is confronted with this. This is not to say I’m not grateful for gift certificates, lord no! I absolutely love them! I’m just saying that there is a tiny bit of stress involved. Too many choices. First world problems, right?
When I finally got myself together, I picked two books. One of which I’ve had my eye on for quite some time and discovered it when Heidi Swanson reviewed it on her blog, 101 Cookbooks. Moro East is a beautifully photographed book of recipes inspired by the Spanish and Mediterranean Muslim community in London. It’s a cookbook that tells a story and you’ll find that it will entice you to spend an afternoon cozied up to it, slowly turning the pages while sipping hot tea.
Butternut Squash Pisto
Adapted from Moro East
Pisto is a Spanish ratatouille. I tweaked this recipe, which originally called for pumpkin, with ingredients I had on hand.
1 Butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons, fennel seeds
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
12 tablespoons strained tomatoes, such as Pomi
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar diluted with 4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
Fennel pollen, optional
Toss the butternut squash chunks in a bowl with the salt and set aside.
Stir in the garlic bay leaves and thyme.
Cook for a couple of minutes and add the butternut squash.
Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the squash, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to soften.
Add the fennel seeds, nutmeg and cumin.
Stir in the strained tomatoes.
Let cook for 5-1o minutes until the squash is very tender.
Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the pisto.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm with a pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top and a generous dusting of fennel pollen.