Butternut squashed

“This is the easiest method for cooking squash. All the flavour is added at the last minute when you smash it in. Don’t panic if you’re tight for hob or oven space and the squash isn’t piping hot by the time you serve – it’s just as good warm. ”

SERVES 12
COOKS IN 2h 30min
DIFFICULTY not too tricky

Ingredients
2 butternut squash
50 g pine nuts
a few sprigs of fresh sage
extra virgin olive oil
½ fresh red chilli, optional
200 g vacuum-packed chestnuts
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
balsamic vinegar , optional

Method
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Wash and dry the whole squash, then place on a baking tray. Pierce once or twice with the tip of a sharp knife, then bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until golden and very soft.
Scatter the pine nuts on a baking tray and toast them in the oven at the same time – they will only need a couple of minutes to turn golden, so make sure you keep an eye on them to prevent them burning.
Add a lug of oil to a frying pan, then pick in the sage leaves and fry until crisp. Remove to piece of kitchen paper to drain, reserving the oil.
Lay the cooked squash on a board, remove the stalks and, using a knife and tongs, carefully slice the squash lengthways, down the middle. Scoop out and discard the seeds.
Finely chop the chilli and crumble the chestnuts, then sprinkle over the squash halves with the cinnamon and a good pinch of black pepper. Really mash and chop all the lovely toppings into the squash with your knife, so all the flavours go right through.
Serve the squash halves topped with the crisp sage, the toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of the reserved sage oil and a little balsamic vinegar (if using).

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