Baked Squash Stuffed with Spicy Sausage & Vegetables

stuffedbakedsquash

A far less delicate stuffing today. After my acorn squash with maple syrup disaster dinner last week, I knew I hadn’t finished with the squash family. I don’t know what this squash is called, actually, but it cost about £2 in Waitrose. When it came to the stuffing, I didn’t know if I wanted gingery, zingy and green or creamy, soft and meaty. When in doubt, I say, choose cream. So this is a slightly more complex take on my spicy sausage pasta from the other week. It has onion, celery and garlic as a base though, to give it some depth, and mushrooms, courgettes and pine nuts to give it some body. There is no pasta in it, I figure the squash will do pasta’s job. I used a pork and apple sausage which suited this dish really nicely. Serves 2 very hungry people, completely by itself.

  • 1 winter squash, acorn, butternut or whatever looks good
  • 1 packet good quality sausages
  • olive oil
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g courgette, sliced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 100g pinenuts
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 150ml double cream
  • Handful of basil and flatleaf parsley, finely chopped, roughly equal quantities.

stuffedbakedsquashwhole

Preheat your oven to gas 6. Firstly, cut your squash in half. As you can probably see from the pics, mine was a rather squashed squash, so I had the remarkably clever idea of cutting horizontally rather than vertically through the squash. Now honestly, this did aid me in persuading the squash to lie still in the pan, put it was hard work. The squash was fairly hard, and it was too much to cut through in one slice, like it would have been if I cut the other way. So if you decide to do this, you’ll need a short, very sharp knife and a steady hand. Anyway, I think I did an ok job. Remove the seeds and stringy stuff from the inside of the squash and put the halves in a shallow roasting tin, cover with foil and cook for 30-45 minutes until almost soft right through.

stuffedbakedsquashunfilled

In the meantime, put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and add the celery, garlic and onion and salt and pepper. Cook over a low heat until they are softened and golden. In another pan, without oil this time, place it over a low heat and crumble the sausages into it, breaking up any big lumps with a wooden spoon. When it is browned, turn off the heat. In the celery and onion mixture, add your mushrooms and courgettes and turn the heat up slightly. Stirring, fry these until softened, and add your sausage. Stir again, add your glass of wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream, chilli and mustard and cook down until the sauce has cooked down – a matter of minutes or so. Remove from the heat, and stir in the herbs and pinenuts. Check the seasoning. Divide the sausage mixture into the squash cavities and return to the oven.

stuffedbakedsquashuncooked

Cook for a further 30 minutes until the squash is cooked through completely and the whole dish is slightly browned on top. Scoff.

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The Best Mac ‘n Cheese

It’s difficult  to give you a recipe for this simply because I have no idea really of the quantities I use for anything in it, it has just become something I do completely by sight. I don’t really think it matters if you don’t want to put in the bacon, the mushrooms or the spring onions, and really the quantities are not that big in proportion to the rest of the dish – after all, this is mac n cheese, not bacon, mushroom & onion pasta. Plain macaroni cheese is still completely brilliant and well loved in this household. Alternatively simply exclude the bacon for a vegetarian dinner. I’d like to tell you this serves four, but to be completely truthful with you, it serves two of us with leftovers. And eating macaroni cheese cold the next day, is a priviledge that is mine alone in the Greedy household. If you wanted uber mac ‘n cheese you could easily top this dish with seasoned breadcrumbs before putting in the oven.

macncheese

  • 500g macaroni
  • 1 quantity of white sauce
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • 50g parmesan grated
  • 100g streaky bacon, chopped into inch pieces or cubed pancetta
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, white only, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to Gas 6. Firstly, cook the pasta in a very large saucepan as per packet instructions, drain and leave covered, to one side. In a shallow pan, fry your bacon pieces, and when it starts to brown, add your sliced mushrooms and spring onions together – the fat in the bacon should ensure you don’t need to add extra fat to fry it off but you could add a teaspoon of butter if it is very dry, if you’ve bought back bacon for instance. Then, make your white sauce and when cooked, turn off the heat and  stir in three quarters of your grated cheese. Combine the pasta, cheese and bacon, mushroom and spring onion mixture in the pan you have cooked the pasta in and then pour into an ovenproof dish Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top. Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes until piping hot the all way through, and brown on top. I think I’m supposed to suggest you serve this with salad or veg, but we never do. Scoff.

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Mushroom Lasagne

Apparently, there are people out there, who don’t like mushrooms. I can imagine few things as inoffensive myself, and mushrooms don’t lack potential if you think about working to their strengths. The only type of mushroom that I don’t have any room for is the anaemic white button but I’m sure if pushed I could find a use for them too. I don’t know if its the time if year, but its not particularly to find wild mushrooms around here at the moment, so I used some dried porcini in this along with chestnut, ‘exotic’ and flat field mushrooms. All available from the supermarket. I know this might sound like a fair few mushrooms, but believe me, this amount will reduce down to very little and you don’t need to buy the combination of mushrooms that I’ve suggested, but don’t get any less in weight. You can add more garlic if you want to, but I didn’t want overpowering, just background. Serves 4.

For the mushroom filling:

  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g flat field mushrooms, chopped
  • 200g exotic mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of dried porcini, rehydrated as per instructions
  • one clove of garlic, crushed
  • half a large onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • shake of worcestershire sauce
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • olive oil

In a large pan with a lid, pour in a good splosh of olive oil, add your onion, garlic and thyme, salt & pepper and cook over a medium-low heat, lid on, but stirring regularly until the onions are golden and completely softened. Then a handful at a time, add the chopped mushrooms, mixing thoroughly after each addition until the mushrooms are thoroughly mixed with everything else. Turn the heat up a smidge and start to cook the mushrooms, stirring briskly, until they start to break down and release their water. If the mixture seems very dry, you can add some more olive oil but very soon, the mushrooms should be softening and releasing their juices. You want to cook the mushrooms down for about 30 minutes over a low heat, until the mushrooms have shrunk right down and the pan is dry of the juices. Set to one side.

To assemble the lasagne:

  • 1 quantity of white sauce (I don’t have my own recipe, after making it by sight for 17 odd years. Can’t beat Delia for the basics though)
  • packet of lasagne sheets
  • 150g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated
  • quantity of mushroom filling

Preheat oven to gas 5. For me, lasagne is all about the pasta, so I always make lots of thinner layers rather than a couple of big ones. Divide the mushrooms roughly into 4 equal quantities. Put a little white sauce into the bottom of a lasagne pan and place on your first layer of pasta. On top of this, put on your first bit of mushroom filling,  about a  fifth of the cheese and an approxmate fifth of white sauce. Add another layer of pasta and repeat the process until you’ve used your mushrooms. Put on a final layer of lasagne, top with the remaining white sauce and finish off with grated cheese.   Put the lasagne in the oven and cook it for 30-40 minutes. Goes nicely with green veg. Scoff.