Roasted and stuffed, this week’s Dalston delight

Roasted, stuffed squash

EVERY WEEK I take £5 to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe.

As usual, expenditure on any extra ingredients, eg, a litre of oil, will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will all be tasty. All will be vegetarian.

NB: this website uses metric measures but a few Ridley Road traders cheekily sell in imperial, some in metric and some also by the bowl. They all give good value.


This week’s £5 basket

2 butternut squashes £1

9 large red onions £1

Red bonnet peppers £1. Too many to count (TMTC) 

Pickling onions £1 TMTC

4 mangoes £1


Total £5

This summer has been awful for food-growers around the world. In England rain and floods have drowned fields of vegetables, causing them to rot. It’s been similar in Australia while in both north America and Russia drought has ruined wheat and corn and damaged other crops. This means that in the months to come vegetables and wheat-based products will become expensive, so this seems a good time to make pickles and chutneys before the inevitable price increases filter through to Ridley Road.

From this week’s basket I shall dry the bonnet peppers but before that is completed I shall use some now to make mango chutney.

The pickling onions will keep for weeks and they will go into a piccalilli and also be used to make more pickled onions — my cupboard always contains lots of pickled onions. The red onions will also keep and I’ll use them to make a caramelised red-onion chutney.

Over the next few weeks I shall buy the other vegetables needed: cauliflower, marrow or courgette, ginger and cucumber for making the piccalilli. The two butternut squashes will also keep if they are kept in a vegetable rack that allows the air to circulate around them. One squash, however, is for this week’s recipe.

Equipment: Roasting tin, oven, cooking foil — enough to wrap around the squash halves, kitchen and paring knife. Wash all vegetables.

Recipe: roasted, stuffed squash. Serves 2. Though I spent £5, this dish cost, in total, less than 70p.

Set oven to 200C

Preparation: 12 minutes, cooking: 1 hour. This dish cooks itself — the cook can relax 


1 squash cut in half and the seeds scooped out

1 onion, from last week’s basket, peeled, sliced and chopped into small pieces

Herbs of choice. I used rosemary and bay leaves

2 tablespoons oil


Tomatoes — optional


Fill each half of the squash with the chopped onion, rosemary leaves and a tablespoon of oil. Place the squash halves on separate pieces of foil and add the bay leaves and seasoning. I had four spare tiny tomatoes looking lost so I put them in too. Wrap tightly, put in roasting tin and place in the hot oven and cook for one hour. 

Unwrap the squashes, enjoy the aroma of herbs as you remove the squash from the foil and place on a serving plate. Pour over the juices that are in the foil wrapping and serve with rice or any other grain. 

Tip: Mr Lambert, of stall 70 in Ridley Road market, made some of his chilli sauce last weekend and it is on sale now at his stall, on the southern (railway) side of the street. The pitch sells only Afro-Caribbean vegetables and was established in the 1950s by his father.

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