Butternut Squash.

Butternut Squash has a fluted stem, the orange flesh is sweet, rich and dense. I think one of the best ways to eat it is roasted as this brings out its flavour and retains the goodness.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place it cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Serve in the skin or scoop out the flesh and mash with butter and seasoning.


Roast Butternut Squash

1 large or two small butternut squash
1 tbsp Olive Oil
25g Butter
2tbsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely

Preheat the oven to 220C(200 fan) Gas mark 7.

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out all the seeds, cut in half again, then put into a roasting tin. Drizzle the squash with the olive oil, season and roast for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile put the butter into a bowl with the chopped thyme and chopped chilli. Mix together well. Add a little to each slice of the cooked butternut squash.


Warm Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

Serves 4

75g Pumpkin Seeds
1 butternut squash (or 2 small)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
50g rocket
100g goats Cheese

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7. Heat a small non-stick frying pan until hot, then add the pumpkin seeds and toast briefly. They will give a nutty aroma and start to pop when cooked and need to be removed from the pan as soon as they do so. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and peel. Cut the flesh into 1.5-2 cm chunks and toss in olive oil, season and spread on a baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes in the oven until tender. Transfer the roasted squash into a large bowl with the balsamic vinegar and rocket and mix briefly. Crumble in the goats cheese, scatter with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.


Squash Risotto

Serves 2-3

400-500g squash
1 onion, chopped
50g butter
1 ¼ pints chicken/veg stock
4 fresh sage leaves, torn
250g arborio rice
1 large glass dry white wine
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp grated parmesan

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and then cut in 1 cm cubes. In a large pan cook the onion in half the butter until translucent, in the meantime boil the stock and then keep on a low heat. Add the sage and squash to the onions and stir for one minute and then add the rice, continue stirring for another minute then add the wine and salt and pepper, simmer and stir until the wine has evaporated. Add the couple of ladles of stock at a time,, stirring until all the stock has been added and the liquid evaporated. The rice should be tender, stir in the remaining butter, the parsley and parmesan and more pepper if needed.


Squash, Mushroom and Cheese Pasta

Serves 4

1 Squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1 cm pieces
250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
200g pasta shapes such as penne
200ml half fat crème fraiche
50g finely grated parmesan
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200c, gas mark 6.
Put the squash and the mushrooms in a roasting tin, season and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft and slightly charred. Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, bring back to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile set preheat the grill to high. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the roasted squash and mushrooms, gently stir in the crème fraiche and half the parmesan, and season to taste. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, top with the breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan, then grill until crisp and golden. Serve hot.


Bean, Pepper and Squash Chilli

Serves 4

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 squash, peeled and cut into 3-4 cm dice
410g tin cannellini beans,rinsed
20g parsley, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the red chilli and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, pepper and 150ml of cold water. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the squash, cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Finally add the cannellini beans, simmer for 5 minutes and stir in the parsley. Serve immediately.

Roast Vegetable Lasagne

Serves 4

1 squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into thin wedges
4 Parsnips, peeled and sliced
150g mushrooms, halved
4 Tomatoes, quartered
1 Pepper, seeded and chunk into chunks
Olive Oil
300g mozzarella, torn into chunks
150g pine nuts
12 sheets of fresh lasagne
100g parmesan, grated
sage to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Put all the vegetables into a roasting tin, drizzle generously with olive oil and roast for 35-40 minutes. Add the mozzarella and roast for a further 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Meanwhile in a large pan of boiling water blanch the lasagne for 3-4 minutes or until al dente. Drain the lasagne and drizzle with olive oil to prevent the sheets from sticking together.
Heat a small frying pan and toast the pine nuts for 2 minutes until golden, shaking the pan regularly.
Assemble the dish by placing a sheet of lasagne on four plates. Top each with a spoon of the roasted vegetables, a sprinkling of parmesan and ground black pepper. Repeat and finish with a third sheet of lasagne on each plate. Top with parmesan and sage to serve.