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How to Make Butternut Squash Soup and Charred Eggplant Dip

These two recipes from Rohan Anderson’s Whole Larder Love cookbook are perfect for cold weather (and for a salsa replacement on NFL Sundays).

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Rohan Anderson

The following two recipes are taken from Whole Larder Love by Rohan Anderson, which was published by powerHouse Books. Anderson’s upcoming cookbook, A Year Of Practiculture, is scheduled to be released in April 2016.

Rohan Anderson, a hunter, gatherer, food blogger and self-described “home grown DIY food producer,” uses fresh seasonal ingredients found near his home in Victoria, Australia, to make delicious, rustic food. Though Anderson forages for his own produce, you can make these recipes — for a butternut pumpkin and leek soup, and a char-grilled eggplant dip — with ingredients from the local Whole Foods. They’re perfect for the cold weather of late fall and winter, plus the dip makes a nice replacement for chips and salsa on NFL Sundays.
– Tucker Bowe

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Butternut and Leek Soup

There are many types of pumpkin you can grow, and these days there is a great range of heirloom varieties becoming more readily available. Often though, I can’t help but raise one of my old reliable favorites; the good old butternut pumpkin (butternut squash). You’ll be able to find seedlings at your local nursery or you can propagate them from seed using the toilet roll method.

Why is butternut pumpkin so special? It’s sweet and nutty, roasts well, and works amazingly well in a soup where others fail to rate. Best of all if you leave at least 6 inches (15cm) of stalk attached when you harvest them, they can be stored in the larder and available for winter consumption.

Ingredients:

1 butternut pumpkin, skinned and de-seeded
2 leeks, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
2 tablespoon butter
1/5 cup (50 milliliters) pouring cream
1 quart (1 liter) chicken stock
Handful fresh thyme, chopped
Small handful parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Preparation:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
2. Clean out pumpkin and chop into large chunks.
3. Place pumpkin pieces into a roasting tray with a good drizzle of olive oil. Get your hands right in there and toss them around so the pumpkin is nicely covered in that beautiful olive oil.
4. Pop in your garlic cloves for roasting too, not chopped, just whole cloves, skin on.
5. Roast the pumpkin for 40 minutes turning once. When done remove the pumpkins and garlic and set aside.
6. Now heat a large saucepan, add a glug of olive oil and the butter. When the butter is almost melted add the chopped leek and cook until it softens on a medium-high heat (normally 5-10 minutes).
7. Now, add the roasted pumpkin, grate in the nutmeg, and add the thyme and stock.
8. Squeeze out that wonderful soft garlic right into your saucepan. Try not to eat it straight away like I always do!
9. Mash it all together. Use whatever you have around; I’ll often use a potato masher or a large wooden spoon. Don’t worry about consistency or texture at this stage, as we’ll run a whizzer through it soon.
10. This is your soup base. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes, with a little stirring every so often. If it looks too thick, add more stock or hot water and stir through.
11. Run a hand food processor (or a stick blender) through the soup to get your desired consistency. Add your cheese, salt and pepper to season, and stir through.
12. Pour in the cream, garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve with some toasted bread and eat away your winter blues.

Char-Grilled Eggplant Dip

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Eggplant is one of my favorite summer vegetables to grow. It’s a lot like zucchini in that once the warm weather arrives it really gets a wriggle on. There is a great range of eggplant varieties from short stumpy ones to long and slender and even zebra striped (which starts to sound like a range of adult toys).

Char-grilling eggplant brings out that great smoky roasted flavor, and grilled eggplant on its own is perfect with some feta, marinated capsicum, and fried mushroom all toasted between a couple slices of focaccia. But this recipe takes it one step further, making it into a dip that is a real treat on toasted ciabatta or with water crackers.

Ingredients:
2 eggplants
1 fresh chili (de-seeded)
5 cloves garlic
3.5 ounces (100 grams) of feta cheese
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Preparation:
1. Slice the eggplant lengthways (skin on) and place on a tray. Finely chop the fresh parsley, chili, and the garlic.
2. Sprinkle each layer of sliced eggplant with some salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Use either a BBQ grill or a griddle pan to grill the eggplant until soft.
3. Place all the grilled eggplant into a food processor and whiz well.
4. Add the feta, tahini, chopped parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, and chili, and season with salt and pepper.
5. Transfer into a bowl and refrigerate for and few hours before serving.

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