I know it’s Halloween tomorrow, but I just couldn’t face wrestling with a pumpkin last night – sometimes life’s too short. I also loathe Halloween. I hate stupid fake spider webs, food that looks like eyeballs or severed fingers and the colour orange, aka, the most unattractive colour in the whole colour spectrum. So, feeling rebellious, I walked straight past all the pumpkins and other Halloween tat in Waitrose, and made a beeline for the butternut squash. Stuffed with garlicky mushrooms and topped with melted cheese and toasted hazelnuts, this makes for the perfect Halloween feast, whether you’re dressed up as Pennywise or not.
Stuffed Raclette Butternut Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts
Serves 4 / prep 20 minutes + 1 hr 15 mins roasting
1 Large butternut squash
3 Large garlic cloves, crushed
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Sprigs of rosemary
120g raclette / gruyere (or vegetarian alternative)
6 Small portobello or large chestnut mushrooms
Handful of hazelnuts (optional)
Salt and pepper
Watercress to serve (optional)
1. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Give the outside of your squash a quick wash and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice your butternut squash in half lengthways (I find it easier to do this in stages. I stand the squash upright and slice downwards to about a quarter, I then turn it upside down and to this again. I keep repeating these steps until I meet in the middle).
2. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Crush one of the garlic cloves and split between the two halves. Add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to each half and combine with the crushed garlic. Brush the garlic and the oil over the squash flesh evenly. Curl up a sprig of rosemary into each butternut squash hollow and season well with salt and pepper. Pop on a baking tray and bake in the oven until the flesh has softened, between 45mins and 1 hour (depending on how big your squash is).
3. Carefully remove your squash from the oven and discard the rosemary sprigs (keep the oven on). Making sure you leave a 1cm thick layer of flesh still attached to the skin, so the squash holds its shape, use a spoon and a fork to rough up and scoop out the flesh. Distribute the roughed up flesh evenly across the whole squash and spread out that lovely rosemary flavour.
4. Immerse 3 appropriately sized mushrooms into the soft flesh of each squash half. If it all feels a bit full, remove some of the flesh (I ate a couple of spoonfuls of mine). Crush the other two garlic cloves and distribute evenly across all 6 mushrooms. Spread the garlic over each mushrooms, season well with salt and pepper and drizzle a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil across each squash. Top each squash with three slices of raclette cheese before baking in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile crush a handful of hazelnuts in a bag using a rolling pin on a hard surface. In a small saucepan on a medium to high heat, add a few sprays of oil and toast the hazelnuts until light brown and aromatic.
6. Finally, remove your squash from the oven, carefully cut in half and serve topped with toasted hazelnuts and a good handful of watercress.
If you’ve had a go at making my stuffed squash or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale email@example.com