Roasted autumn squash with buffalo ricotta, chestnuts and vincotto

Serves 4-6

I will never forget eating buffalo ricotta about 15 years ago in Sardinia; it was so fresh that it was still steaming. I've never really eaten much ricotta since, as I knew that I would probably be disappointed. In Turin we tasted something from one of the local cheese producers that came pretty close. There are plenty of different types of squashes in the shops at the moment, so you can pick and choose which ones you want to use. Vincotto or grape must is a thick and sweet vinegar made from fermented grapes, which tastes rather like aged balsamic. You can find it at specialist delis or Italian shops.

1 squash weighing about 1kg or a selection
A few sprigs of thyme or oregano
4-6tbsp olive oil
1-2tbsp pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150-200g good quality ricotta at room temperature
16-20 chestnuts
2tbsp vincotto or grape must

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Prepare the squashes by peeling the ones with tougher skins, halving and de-seeding them (leave the skin on the tender ones). Cut them into even-sized pieces and transfer to a roasting tray. Season and scatter the thyme over, then spoon over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, turning every so often, then transfer to a clean dish.

Meanwhile, score the chestnuts at the pointed end with a small, sharp knife and cook on a separate tray in the oven with the squash for about 15 minutes. Be careful, sometimes they "pop", which means they are ready to come out. Leave them to cool a little and then carefully peel away the outer shell. Remove any burnt bits of skin and halve them.

To serve, arrange the squashes on a serving dish or plate with the warm chestnuts. Spoon over some olive oil from the pan and drizzle a little vincotto and scatter with pumpkin seeds.

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