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Baked butternut squash with leeks and hazelnuts

These tempting baked stuffed squash make for an impressive and substantial meal. The scent of thyme, leeks and cheese that wafts when you open the oven is divine.

Method

Make sure the outside of the squash is scrubbed clean. Cut the squash in half length ways and scoop out the seeds and soft fibres. Put in a roasting dish, add the chopped garlic, a knob of butter and a sprig of thyme to each cavity, then brush with a little oil and season well.

Place in an oven preheated to 190°C/Gas Mark 5 and bake for ¾-1 hour, until the flesh feels very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Whilst the squash are roasting heat the rest of the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the leeks, onion and remaining thyme then gently cook for 10 -15 minutes until soft, add the cream and reduce by half until the leeks are thick and unctuous.

Scoop the soft flesh and all the buttery, garlicky juices out of the squash and put into a bowl, leaving a 1cm thick layer of flesh still attached to the skin, so the squash holds its shape.

Roughly mash the flesh then fold the hazelnuts and 2/3rds of the cheese into the leeks, finally fold in the soft squash and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the filling back into the empty squash halves and scatter on the reserved cheese. To finish return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. Serve with a crisp green salad.

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Ingredients

  • 2 small butternut squash
  • 50 g butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 large leeks halved and sliced thin
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 50 g roast hazelnuts crushed
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 100 g vegetarian cheese

This recipe is taken from...

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