Chargrilled Summer Squash and Spring Onion with Whipped Ricotta & a Chilli Dressing

From Ainsley’s National Trust Cook Off, ITV

Chargrilling vegetables really brings out their flavour and natural sweetness while keeping a nice bite. Urfa chillies have a sweet smoky flavour that works wonderfully with sweet squash and zesty lemon, and the paste is now available from delis or some supermarkets. If you can’t find urfa chilli paste, use a rose harissa paste with a good pinch of sweet smoky dried chilli flakes such as urfa or ancho.


Put the courgettes and squash chunks into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brush the spring onion liberally with oil.

Heat a grill pan to medium-hot or preheat a barbecue. Place the onions on the grill and cook, turning once, until grill marks appear and the onions are tender – approx. 8 minutes in total. Remove from the grill and set aside. Place the squash and courgette pieces onto the grill, cooking in batches and brushing with extra oil if needed, and grill for 3-4 minutes on each side for the squash and 2-3 minutes on each side for the courgette or until tender but still with bite and char-grill marks appear. Place the lemon halves on the grill cut-side down until slightly charred.

In a small saucepan over a low- medium heat warm the ingredients for the dressing until combined. Season with a little salt and remove from the heat.

Put the ricotta, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and a pinch of salt and pepper into a large bowl and use a hand whisk to beat until smooth and creamy. Check for seasoning. Alternatively place into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Remove the squash and courgette from the grill and place in a bowl. Drizzle over 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing and toss to coat.

Spread the whipped ricotta on a serving platter. Top with the charred vegetables, season with flaky sea salt and drizzle over some of the remaining dressing. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, mint and basil leaves. Serve with flatbreads and the charred lemon for squeezing.



  • 250g tub of ricotta, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 large green courgettes, thickly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 large yellow courgette, thickly sliced on the diagonal
  • 5-6 small pattypan squash, cut in half or quartered (or 1 large, cut into wedges)
  • 300g butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1cm medallions, then halved
  • 4 fat spring onion, cut in half lengthways
  • light olive oil, for drizzling and brushing
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • flaky sea salt
  • For the Dressing
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of urfa chilli paste (or 1 tbsp rose harissa and a good pinch of urfa/ancho chilli flakes)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • To Serve
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • good handful of both mint and basil leaves, to garnish
  • warm flatbreads, for serving