Don't let the cooking time put you off this recipe; once the squash is in the oven the filling takes no more than 5 minutes to prepare and you can leave it and get on with something else.
It's not often that I'll get a recipe spot on the first time I try it - I usually find a few tweaks are required and it can take up to three or four attempts to fine-tune and perfect. This was the first time I'd cooked a butternut squash and it was lovely, although I suspect that there's little room for error when roasting this kind of vegetable. Like sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots, it becomes soft and sweet, only needing seasoning and a pinch of herbs to finish it off.
This squash is loosely based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe from River Cottage Every Day. The original recipe uses walnuts, blue cheese and honey but I tried the creme fraiche variation, adding cheese and breadcrumbs to make it really special.
We served the squash with focaccia, hummus, roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes but a simple salad would work well too.
- Butternut squash (around 1kg)
- 1 clove garlic
- knob butter
- 2 tsp creme fraiche
- 40g cheese
- a pinch dried oregano
- a pinch dried thyme
- small handful fresh basil
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Wash the butternut squash thoroughly then halve it and discard the seeds.
- Place the halves on a baking tray then roughly chop the clove of garlic and place it in the cavity of the squash halves along with a small knob of butter. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place in the oven for around 45 minutes.
- While the squash is cooking, coarsely chop the cheese and basil leaves.
- When the 45 minutes have passed, remove the squash from the oven. If you can easily scoop out the flesh then it's cooked, otherwise put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so.
- Remove the garlic and melted butter and place into a bowl. At this stage I chose to discard the garlic as I found it was quite strong but you can leave it in if you prefer.
- Remove the flesh from the squash and place it into the bowl with the butter, leaving about 1cm around the edge so that the squash can retain its shape.
- Place some of the cheese to one side then add the rest of the cheese, basil, oregano, thyme and creme fraiche to the bowl. Mash well, check the seasoning, then spoon back into the empty squash halves.
- Top with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs if using, drizzle with olive oil and put the squash back in the oven for around 15 minutes until the topping has turned golden brown.