How to prepare a butternut squash and recipes

They’re oddly shaped, tricky to chop and are full of seeds making them a hard vegetable to get to grips with. But the Great British Chefs show how to make the best of a delicious winter staple

Friday 03 February 2017 17:47 GMT
Butternut Squash

Chunky butternut squash miso soup with miso and black pepper butter by Shu Han Lee

When the weather’s chilly, I like nothing more than curling up with a big bowl of soup and letting it warm my fingers and tummy. Pumpkin is a favourite in autumn and winter – all sorts, though I tend to favour the sweeter squashes like butternut and kabocha. Salty savoury miso is a wonderful contrast to the sweet pumpkin. White miso is best here as its gentle flavour won’t overpower the soup. I prefer a chunky soup to a smooth one; it’s much more exciting as you get a great mix of textures and there are little nuggets of golden treasures you can unearth with each spoonful. Also, you’ll have one less blender to deal with while washing up. This recipe includes a side tip for making miso butter – oddly but delightfully cheesy-tasting, and perfect for finishing your soup with.

1 butternut squash, weighing approximately 1kg
1 onion, medium
4 garlic cloves
500ml of water, or vegetable stock
3tbsp of unsalted butter, organic, softened
3tbsp of white miso
1tbsp of groundnut oil
1 pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

fresh coriander
sourdough bread, crusty, thickly sliced

Peel, de-seed, and dice the butternut squash into small, roughly even pieces. You should get slightly more than 2 cups of squash. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the groundnut oil along with 1 tablespoon of butter in a large heavy-based pot. Add the chopped onions and garlic, frying till lightly browned and fragrant.

Add the chopped butternut squash, along with the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, before lowering the heat and letting it simmer for 15 minutes, or until the butternut squash is very tender.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir 1 tablespoon of the miso and a generous grinding of black pepper into the softened butter, making sure to really beat the miso into the butter with a fork. Set aside, covered.​ When the butternut squash is cooked and tender, turn the heat off. Ladle a scoop of hot stock into a bowl and stir in the other 2 tablespoons of miso until well mixed. Pour the miso solution back into the soup and stir to combine. Mash the soup just a little with a wooden spoon to thicken the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Dish out into bowls and top with miso butter, letting it melt from the heat of the soup. Finish with a fresh grinding of black pepper and a sprinkle of coriander. Serve with thick slices of crusty sourdough bread and make sure to mop up every last bit of soup.

Savoury lattice pie, with butternut squash, leek, lemon and ricotta by Food Urchin

This savoury lattice pie recipe from Danny (Food Urchin) is simple to make, and the sweet flavours make it equally suited as a weekend lunch or perhaps an unusual brunch with friends and family. Rolling the herbs into the pastry really adds an extra dimension to the dish.

500g of shortcrust pastry block
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced into large chunks
3 leeks, sliced into rounds
​500g of ricotta
​100g of Parmesan, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped
1 bunch of sage leaves, finely chopped
​rapeseed oil
1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
plain flour, for dusting

1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and drizzle over a little rapeseed oil, tossing the chunks to make sure they are all coated in the oil. Roast for 15 minutes, then add the leeks to the tray, toss together and roast for a further 15-20 minutes, until golden and soft, then transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Once cool, add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest, nutmeg and seasoning. Add the sage and half the thyme leaves, mix together and set aside.

Divide the pastry into one 350g portion and one 150g portion. Roll out the larger piece of pastry on a lightly floured worktop to a thickness of 5mm, then use it to line a 23cm round pie tin, tucking the pastry into the bottom and allowing some to overhang the edges. Fill the pastry with the cheese and vegetable mix, spreading it out evenly across the base, then trim off the excess pastry from the edge.

Roll out the remaining pastry to a thickness of 5mm, then scatter over the remaining thyme leaves. Fold the pastry in half then roll out again so that the thyme leaves are fully incorporated. Cut the pastry into twelve equal strips, each about 2cm wide. Form a lattice pattern across the top of the pie, with six strips placed horizontal, and six vertical, interweaving as you go.

Trim and seal the ends of the strips to the edge of the pie with a little water, then brush the whole lattice with the egg to glaze. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Leave to cool slightly before serving in slices.

Cheesy roasted squash lasagne with spinach and walnut pesto by Becca Pusey

Looking for a beautiful hearty dish? Becca shows how roasted squash can transform lasagne. The flavour of butternut squash is really brought to life when it’s roasted – and once you combine the roasted squash with a simple spinach and walnut pesto and a creamy béchamel sauce, you’ve got yourself the perfect dinner. The spinach pesto in this recipe not only adds a bit of interest (look at those colours), but some extra nutrition too – I always feel virtuous when there’s a bit of green in my food. The combination of the slightly sweet roasted butternut squash, the nutty pesto and the cheesy sauce is just heavenly.

Serves 4

1 butternut squash, fairly large (if you’re buying the flesh pre-cut, you’ll need about 500g)
2tbsp of oil
black pepper
35g of walnuts
1 garlic clove
40g of spinach
2tbsp of olive oil
20g of butter
2tbsp of plain flour
​250ml of milk
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
​120g of cheddar, grate
150g of lasagne pasta, no-boil

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut into 1cm dice. Toss it with a little cooking oil, and season with salt and pepper. Lay it out in a single layer on a baking tray, and roast for 30-40 minutes, until soft and just beginning to crisp up on the edges. While the squash is roasting, place the walnuts, garlic and spinach in a food processor, and blitz until a coarse paste is formed.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and process again to combine. Set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan and, over a low heat, add the flour. Whisk continually for a minute or two to cook the flour, then add the milk around 50ml at a time, continuing to whisk. Wait until each portion of milk is well combined and the mixture is smooth before adding the next amount.

When you have used all the milk and the mixture has created a smooth sauce that has thickened slightly, season and add a pinch of nutmeg and just over half of the grated cheese (around 70g). Remove from the heat, and stir for one more minute until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth again. When the squash is cooked, transfer it to a bowl and mash coarsely with a fork. Alternatively, if you would like your squash purée to be really smooth, you could blitz it in your food processor. Turn the oven down to 190C/gas mark 5.

It’s now time to layer up your lasagne. Start with a spoonful or two of the cheese sauce, and spread it across the bottom of a baking dish (mine measures 10 x 6 inches) - you only need a very thin layer to stop the pasta from sticking. Add a layer of lasagne sheets (just break them up to fit your dish).

From now on, it doesn’t really matter what order you layer things up, but I made mine in this order: add half of the squash mixture and spread it around with a fork. Add a layer of lasagne, then half of the remaining cheese sauce, spreading it around to cover the lasagne sheets. Add half of the squash mixture. Add the remaining grated cheese, you should have about 50g left for this, I also like to add a little more black pepper on top.

Bake the lasagne, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the pasta is soft. If you find the cheese is browning too quickly, cover the dish with foil and continue to cook until the pasta is soft. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

For more delicious butternut squash recipes visit Great British Chefs

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