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Squash from our garden cut in half

Introduction

I ate this dish in Barbuto, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan (review) a couple of years ago. When I cut this squash open the other day, I immediately thought of it.

I used the squash straight from my garden, but it is excellent with acorn or butternut squash.

Tips

Peeling a squash is optional, but it does makes it easier to cut and is essential if preparing a risotto. To peel butternut or other firm-skinned squash, trim the top and bottom of the squash with a sharp knife, then peel from top to bottom.

For four portions cut the squash in half lengthwise, then halve lengthwise again. Scoop out the seeds (see suggestion).

With walnuts, it is preferable to remove the loose skin after roasting. Place the roasted nuts into a dish towel (not a white one). Roll it up and shake from side to side. The loose parts stick to the towel.

When using roquefort or gorgonzola it is essential that the cheese reach room temperature before eating.

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 1 squash, peeled and quartered
  • 120g\4oz Roquefort cheese, at room temperature, cut into 4 strips
  • 60g\2oz of walnut pieces
  • 120ml\4fl oz\½ a cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive oil for basting
  • Salt and pepper

Tools of the Trade

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C\425°F\gas mark 7 (reduce temperature by 10% if using a fan oven).

To make the jus, place the balsamic vinegar into a small pan and place it over a medium to high heat. Bring to the boil and reduce the vinegar by half. Allow to cool.

Roast the walnut pieces in the oven for five minutes or until you just start to get their roasted scent. Place on a cold plate and allow to cool.

Coat the squash with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes until just tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Season with a little pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Place each quarter of squash on an individual plate. Use the Balsamic jus to create a strip or snake down the middle of each plate. This is easier to do with a drizzle or squeeze bottle.

Place the Roquefort on the other side of the balsamic strip/snake and decorate around it with the roasted walnut pieces. Serve with crusty bread.

Suggestion

Stick the squash seeds in a bowl of water for five minutes. The stringy flesh will start to sink to the bottom. Separate the seeds, dry them thoroughly and coat them in well-salted oil. Bake them in a dish alongside the squash for 5-6 minutes. Be aware that they sometimes pop if left too long. Cool then eat.