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Five-Spice Butternut Squash in Cheesy Custard

The flavors of this Ottolenghi Five-Spice Butternut Squash in Cheesy Custard are so good! Buttery squash with Chines Five Spice, baked in a cheesy miso and Gruyère custard, brightened by a chive, sesame seed and lime dressing? Yes, please!

Kirsty sent me a link to this Yotam Ottolenghi recipe via NYT Cooking other day, saying that it looked like something that would be right up my alley.

Five-Spice Butternut Squash in Cheesy Custard? Abso-friggin’-lutely! This is classic Ottolenghi, melding flavors like Chinese Five Spice and Gruyère that I probably would not have thought of combining, and making it totally swoonworthy.

This is such a keeper recipe! Want to spoil the vegetarian in your life? Bingo! Looking to cut down on meat and looking for a recipe that will leave you wanting nothing? Here ya go!

This is decadently rich and intensely satisfying and I’m already looking forward to making it again!

xoxo Donata


For the squash:

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 1/2 pounds/1 1/2 kilograms), halved lengthwise and deseeded (stem, base, and skin intact, and one half reserved for later use)

  • 5 large shallots (10 1/2 ounces/300 grams), peeled and halved lengthways

  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder (find a homemade recipe below!)

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) and black pepper

For the custard:

  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons/200 milliliters chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon/200 milliliters heavy cream (double cream)

  • 3 ½ ounces/100 grams Gruyère, finely grated

  • 4 to 5 egg yolks (80 grams)

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (cornflour)

  • 2 teaspoons white miso

For the topping:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons white sesame seeds

  • ¾ teaspoon Aleppo pepper

  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika

  • ⅛ teaspoon five-spice powder

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • ¼ cup/10 grams chives cut in 1/3-inch/1-centimeter pieces

  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)


  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit/240 degrees Celsius (nonfan).

  2. Cut the butternut squash crosswise into 3/4-inch/1 1/2- to 2-centimeter-thick half moons. Transfer to a wide, large cast-iron skillet, skin side up, keeping the slices together in the shape of the butternut squash half. You might have to angle the pieces slightly so that they all fit. Place the shallots on either side of the squash.

  3. In a small bowl, combine oil, five-spice powder, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Pour this all over the vegetables in the skillet, and use your hands to coat everything nicely, rearranging the squash pieces if necessary.

  4. Bake squash for 25 minutes, or until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Spoon out half the cooked shallots from the pan and set them aside, keeping them intact. Set squash aside to cool for 15 minutes, and turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit/170 degrees Celsius (nonfan).

  5. As the squash cools, prepare the custard: Add the stock and cream to a medium saucepan, and heat through on medium until steaming. In a separate large heatproof bowl, whisk together half the cheese, the yolks, garlic, cornstarch (cornflour), miso, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Slowly pour the scalding cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until incorporated and smooth.

  6. When ready, pour the warm custard into the butternut squash skillet, letting it pool all around the squash (avoid pouring it directly onto the squash). Sprinkle the remaining half of the cheese all over the custard, avoiding the top of the squash. Lastly, gently place the reserved shallots, cut-side up, on top of the custard and cheese. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the custard is set with a very slight wobble.

  7. As custard cooks, prepare the topping: Add the sesame seeds to a small frying pan set over medium-high heat. Toast for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add the Aleppo pepper, paprika, five-spice powder and a tiny pinch of salt, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the oil and leave to cook gently for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the chives and lime juice.

  8. When ready to serve, spoon the sesame topping all over the custard and serve warm.

Chinese Five Spice


10 star anise (or 2 tablespoons ground star anise)

2 1/2 tbsp whole fennel seeds (or 1 1/2 tbsp ground fennel seed)

2 tsp szechuan peppercorns (or 2 tsp ground szechuan peppercorn)

1 small stick cinnamon (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)

6 whole cloves (or 1/4 tsp ground cloves)


Toast the whole spices in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until very fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will become bitter. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Grind the spices in a coffee/spice grinder, blender or with a mortar and pestle.

Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi via NYT Cooking

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4 days ago

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