Wild mushroom and onion squash gratin

There is one thing that I simply can’t get enough of in autumn… wild mushrooms! This dish balances the earthiness fragrance of the mushrooms with the delicate sweetness of the squash (my other current fascination). Make use of the abundance of different types of squash and try something new- step away from the old faithful butternut! I have used onion squash here so give this a go!

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Ingredients- serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 banana shallot- finely sliced

2 onion squashes- peeled and cubed (no need to remove skin)

200g mixed wild mushrooms- cleaned and larger ones sliced

150ml vegetable stock

4tbsp creme fraiche

40g speck

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

1. Start off by pre- heating the oven to 180c/ 160fan. Warm half the oil in a large non- stick frying pan over a medium heat on the hob and add the shallot, cubed squash and seasoning. Cover and cook for 15minutes until the squash is tender. This can also be roasted in the oven in a roasting tray with a drizzle of oil and some seasoning if you prefer.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate pan heat the remaing oil and fry the wild mushrooms until light golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove these from the pan and set aside before adding ribbons of speck to the pan to crisp up; again, when ready set aside.

3. When the squash is tender (you should be able to put the point of knife through the cubes easily), add the mushrooms and mix gently. Pop in the hot vegetable stock and cook until most of the stock has evaporated. At this point, stir in the creme fraiche. Next up goes the thyme which you need to remove from the stalk and sprinkle the leaves through the mixture. Last but not least add the crispy speck (if you haven’t already eaten it as you were cooking- always the risk!) and scatter over the top. You can also grate some postman over the top if you like.

4. Cover the pan and pop in the oven and cook for 45- 60 minutes. It can be served as a hearty main or as a side dish so take your pick! It would go well with a simple meat dish so you can taste each delicate flavour.

Wild mushroom and onion squash gratin- an autumnal gratin to rule them all!

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Sausage, squash and sage pasta bake

Pasta has to be one of the most used ingredients in the average household however what you do with it needn’t be average. Butternut squash has to be one of my favourite autumn vegetables and it brings an appealing flash of colour to any dish. Fresh sage must be used here as the flavour of dried sage is too harsh with the delicate flavours of the squash and cheeses.

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Ingredients: serves 4  (can be halved for 2)
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh sage roughly chopped
8 seasoned pork sausages
Pinch of nutmeg
350g rigatoni or conchiglioni
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
850ml milk
50g parmesan
Small ball of mozzarella chopped
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)

1. Get cracking on the squash by peeling and deseeding it. With a sturdy knife, cut the squash into small cubes and place in a microwaveable dish with a tablespoon of water. Pop it in the microwave on a high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until tender.

2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and cook the sage leave for 1 minute until fragrant. Pop the sausages out of their skins and roll gently into balls which are the size of hazelnuts. Add these to the pan with the sage and cook until golden.

3. Add half of the squash to the sausages. Take the remaining squash and mash with a pinch of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper before setting aside.

4. Heat the oven to 200c/ 180fan and cook the pasta according to the packet. Rigatoni works well with the sausage but conchiglioni also works well as the sauce fills the shells so choose whichever you prefer. Whilst the pasta simmers, take a saucepan and melt the butter before adding the flour and keep it moving until it forms a base. Carefully and slowly add in the milk and continue to stir to avoid any lumps forming. Next add the mashed squash, parmesan and more seasoning.

5. Take a large baking dish and layer the left over squash over the bottom. Drain the pasta and stir through the sausage and cheese sauce. Grate over the parmesan and dot on the chunks of mozzarella before baking for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. You may also drizzle over a little truffle oil before baking to give it an extra richness.

An indulgent pasta to warm up a chilly Autumn day!

Sausage and barley roasted butternut squash

Make the most of the new season’s vegetables in this colourful, vibrant recipe. You can also make the recipe vegetarian by omitting the sausages. You will need to use a hard veggie friendly cheese as parmesan is not suitable for vegetarians.

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 butternut squashes- cut lengthways and with seeds scooped out
100g pearl barley
100g kale or cabbage greens
4 sausages- Lincolnshire work well
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion- sliced into small wedges
200g feta- crumbled
1 tbsp harissa paste
Handful of chopped flatleaf parsley
100g cherry or baby plum tomatoes
20g grated parmesan
1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Place the halved butternut squashes cut side up on a roasting tray, give them a light drizzle of oil and cook until tender. This will take around 50 minutes.

2. In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil and pop in the pearl barley. Cook the barley for 40 minutes or until tender. Towards the end add in the kale or cabbage greens for a couple of minutes; drain and then set aside in a large bowl.

3. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the sausages for 12- 15 minutes until golden and cooked through. 5 minutes from the end, add the red onion in and cook together.

4. Cut each sausage into 3- 4 chunks and add to the bowl with the pearl barley in along with the red onion. Mix the barley and sausage together with the feta, harissa, parsley and tomatoes. Season to taste.

5. Scoop out the tender flesh from the squashes leaving a 2cm border at the edges to the squashes hold their shape. Stir the flesh into the barley mixture and then divide between the squashes to stuff them. Sprinkle over the freshly grated parmesan and chilli flakes and roast in the oven for 10- 15 minutes until sweet and golden.

A seasonal celebration of autumn veg !