(Serves six as a starter)
For the baked butternut squash and chickpea falafels
1tbs rapeseed oil
500g (prepared weight) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and roughly diced
1tsp ras el hanout
300g canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained weight)
150ml vegetable stock
1tbs chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as thyme, chervil and chives)
120g dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the butternut squash purée
1tbs unsalted butter
300g (prepared weight) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
1tsp ground cumin
100ml vegetable stock
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
For the pickled elderberries
125g fresh elderberries (topped and tailed), washed
50ml red wine vinegar
1tsp caster sugar
For the salad
500g butternut squash, skin left on, cut into 5mm-thick slices, seeds removed
250g baby fennel (about 6), trimmed, left whole
1tbs rapeseed oil
1tsp ras el hanout
150g canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained weight)
Small sprig of fresh thyme, leaves only
First, prepare the falafels. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and set aside. Heat the rapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the butternut squash, ras el hanout and salt and pepper, then cover and sweat over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until just before the squash starts to colour. Add the chickpeas and stock, cover the pan and cook over a low heat for a further 10 minutes or until the squash has started to break up and the mixture is thickened and fairly dry.
Remove from the heat and add the tahini, then mash to form a coarse paste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the herbs, then cover and chill for two hours. (The falafel mixture can be made in advance up to this stage and will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for three days.)
Mix the breadcrumbs and linseeds together in a bowl. Scoop the falafel mixture into walnut-sized balls and roll each portion in the crumb mixture, then shape each one into a ball. Place the coated balls on the prepared baking tray and keep chilled until you are ready to serve.
While the falafels are chilling, make the purée. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the butternut squash, cumin and salt and pepper, then cover and cook over a medium heat for eight minutes. Add the stock, then cover and cook for a further eight minutes or until the squash is completely soft. Remove from the heat and add the lime zest and juice, then purée until smooth. Set aside. When you are ready to serve, reheat the purée in the saucepan over a low heat for three to five minutes or until it is hot.
Meanwhile, prepare the pickled elderberries. Put the elderberries, red wine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cook over a low heat until the mixture is boiling, then simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, prepare the salad. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the butternut squash and fennel on the prepared baking tray, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle over the rapeseed oil and sprinkle with the ras el hanout. Roast in the oven for 20-22 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Bake the falafels in the oven at the same time for about 12 minutes or until they are crispy on the outside and hot all the way through.
Remove the falafels and roasted vegetables from the oven, then stir the chickpeas and thyme leaves into the vegetables to complete the salad.
To serve, spread a spoonful of the purée on each plate, then arrange the hot falafels and warm roasted vegetable salad on each plate. Spoon over the pickled elderberries and serve.