Autumn Pilau With Squash, Cavolo Nero and Smoked Garlic

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Autumn pilau with squash, cavolo nero and smoked garlic

Autumn pilau with squash, cavolo nero and smoked garlic

This pilau uses some of autumn’s finest vegetables: buttery squash, earthy black cabbage – with smoked garlic. The smoked garlic adds a glorious and timely bonfirey-ness to proceedings. This can be used as a vehicle for leftover Halloween pumpkins. At this time of year, smoked garlic is available in many larger supermarkets.


  • 300g basmati rice
  • 1kg squash, halved, deseeded and cut into 1cm half-moons
  • 5 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves smoked garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
  • 200g cavolo nero, leaves stripped from stalks and roughly chopped (use up the stalks, chopped, in a soup, say)
  • 1 lemon


  1. Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then soak in warm water until you’re ready to cook it.
  2. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a large baking tray, drizzle over three tablespoons of rapeseed oil and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper, then roast for 30 minutes, until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan for which you have a tight-fitting lid on a medium flame, add the remaining rapeseed oil and, when warm, add the sliced onions and smoked garlic. Sweat for eight minutes, then add the spices, chillies, coriander stalks and a teaspoon and three-quarters of salt. Cook for four minutes, until the onions start to brown, then add the cavolo nero.
  4. Gently stir in the soaked and rinsed rice, add 600ml warm water and cover the pan. Turn down the heat to a whisper and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to steam with the lid still on for a further 10 minutes.
  5. When both the rice and the squash are cooked, gently fold the squash into the rice and pour out on to a platter (or spoon on to individual plates). Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon and a scattering of coriander leaves.