Butternut Squash Boats Recipe

Serve this vegan, gluten-free starter, which features a medley of flavors and textures, at your next dinner party.


This is a delicious starter. The natural sweetness of the butternut squash is perfectly complemented by the nutty pumpkin seed and date cream, while the crispy cavolo nero and caremelized nuts add a lovely texture.

Serves 4


  • 2 baby butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeds and membrane removed olive oil, for drizzling
  • a generous handful of torn stemmed cavolo nero (black kale) leaves
  • caramelized nuts, crushed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pumpkin seed and date cream:

  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seed butter or other nut butter, such as almond butter or tahini
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chile pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the butternut squash halves on the lined baking sheet, cut-side down, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip the halves over and bake for 10 minutes more, or until cooked through.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the pumpkin seed and date cream in a food processor and process for a few seconds. Add small amounts of water until it reaches your desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl and cover until ready to serve. The cream can be prepared a day ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in a small amount of olive oil, add the cavolo nero, and cook for about 1 minute, turning it over halfway through, just until crispy but not burnt. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  4. Transfer the butternut squash boats to a platter. Top with the crispy cavolo nero. Sprinkle with crushed caramelized nuts and drizzle with the pumpkin seed and date cream.

Also from Feasts of Veg:

feasts-of-vegFollowing on from the success of Bowls of Goodness, Nina moves from casual bowl food to celebrating in style. This joyful book focuses on delicious festive vegetable dishes that are easy to make. The recipes are driven by modern plant-based cooking inspired by kitchens from around the world: with Mediterranean, Asian, Northern European and Middle Eastern flavours. Chapters include Small Bites, Celebration Salads, Midsummer, Midwinter and Al Fresco, Plated, Hearty Meals and Sweet Endings. This is food for relaxed parties with a pick-and-mix attitude, but there are also stand-out dishes to feed the whole party and more fine-dining plates for dinner parties. And Nina gives handy tips on creating a balanced meal, cooking recipes in advance and how to make recipes vegan and dairy-free.

Reprinted with permission from Feasts of Veg: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes for Gatherings by Nina Olsson and published by Kyle Books, 2018.



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