I call this dish Sarah’s Sunny Squash because of the vibrant, sunny look it has and the fact that it always cheers me up. Something else which is sunny and always cheers me up is Sunila. But alas, Suni is in Sri Lanka for the foreseeable, which is quite a long way to go for dinner as you will appreciate. Which is a shame as the meals we have cooked for each other and shared are memorable. I remember a particularly lovely lunch she made me for my birthday whilst she was recovering from Chicken Pox – a velvety, rich soup made with this very squash and a wonderful salad with beetroot and pine nuts. And a tray full of candles to make like a birthday cake, along with a bar of green and blacks chocolate.
One of the nice things about my friendship with Sunila is that we didn’t meet until well into adulthood – I was 30 and newly married and somehow you feel you get to a stage where you have collected all your friends and everyone else after that is an aquaintance or a nice person to work with. Looking around at those that I know, finding true, kindred spirit type friends in adulthood is fairly unusual. So when she turned up to work at Live Theatre in 2004 she was like a little surprise! When we worked together she often used to enter the building through the window of my office and pause to chat on the window seat before she went off to her office for the morning. I have a very fixed memory of her sat there, sun shining from behind, with a big grin on her pretty face and some sort of naughtiness or mischief in her eyes. Anyone reading this who know her will know that look well :-)
Sunila and I have spent many afternoons, evenings, morning and everything in between happily discussing, agreeing and disagreeing about all matters food. (NB we do talk about other things too, boys, port, art). We are both greedy, adventurous and realise that food really is the stuff of life and no matter what is happening to either of us, we always have food to think about and eat. So nothing is really that bad :-)
I miss you Sunila, this is for you.
2 small red onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
a teaspoon of chilli flakes (or less if you are a bit fragile)
a tablespoon or so of olive oil
a large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into mouth sized chunks
some vegetable or chicken stock
a few dollops of crème fraiche
2 handfuls of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
naan breads or brown rice to serve
gently fry the onion in the oil until its soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and stir in for a min or so. Then add the squash, slightly increase the heat and cook the squash until there are some slightly brownish bits and the outer squash has softened a bit. Then, add just enough stock to almost cover the squash and onion. Cook on a low heat until the stock has reduced and the squash is tender. Add the crème fraiche and stir in along with the coriander. Serve with the bread or rice. So simple but so nice.