by Angela Patel
September and early Autumn is a great time for home-grown produce – tomatoes, leeks, sweetcorn, main crop potatoes to name just a few alongside the classic early Autumn abundance of British plums, pears and apples.
But to me a real sign that summer is almost over is seeing the fabulous array of pumpkins and squashes beginning to appear in the shops – they’ve been slowly growing in the fields through the late summer months and now is the time to enjoy them at their best.
I am starting to think of good value meals that make the most of the seasons best buys. Try this tasty dish of roast butternut squash packed full of veg and delicious Italian-style sausages - it’s just the ticket for a cool Autumn evening meal.
Kitchen tools needed:
Cole & Mason Salt and Pepper Mills
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: approx. 1 hour
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 600g)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 small courgette, diced
- 1/2 small yellow pepper, deseeded and diced
- 4 Italian style pork sausages
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 100ml hot vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tsp Italian dried herbs
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
- herb yogurt, to serve (see Tips)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas 6. Halve the butternut squash lengthways and scoop out and discard the seeds and any stringy flesh. Place the halves, cut side up, in a shallow roasting tin. Drizzle over half the olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Roast in the oven for 20 mins then turn the squash halves over and roast for a further 20-30 mins or until the squash is just tender (see Tips). Leave to cool for 20 mins.
3. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, courgette and pepper and fry for 3-4 mins, stirring occasionally until beginning to soften.
4. Remove the casings from the sausages, pull the sausage meat apart into smaller pieces and add to the pan. Cook over a high heat for 1-2 mins, stirring, until browned using a spatula to break up any large clumps of sausage meat.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, chilli flakes and dried herbs. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 mins until nearly all the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
6. Scoop out some of the cooked butternut squash flesh with a spoon– leaving about a 1cm border around the sides and base of each squash half. Chop the flesh and stir it into the sausage stuffing.
7. Pile the sausage stuffing into the squash halves. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 mins until the stuffing is just starting to brown on top. Sprinkle over the parsley, season with a little more freshly ground black pepper and serve with herb yogurt.
The shape of butternut squashes can vary –some are long and thin while some are shorter and chunkier and this shape may take longer to cook. To check if the flesh is just tender, press down on the bulbous end of one squash half – if it dimples it is ready and if it still feels firm then roast for a little longer.
For a vegetarian version replace the sausages with a 250g packet of microwave brown rice. Add the rice to the pan with the tomatoes and reduce the stock to 2-3 tbsp. Simmer for just 5-6 mins until piping hot.
Mix 3 tbsp each soured cream and Greek-style yogurt with 2 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice for a tasty sauce to dollop on top of the stuffed squash.