I really was under the impression that butternut squash was nearly perfect as is. That is until I tried this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Roasted Butternut Squash with Leeks and Hazelnuts can be a stand alone meal with the addition of a green salad. Perfect for this time of year when you’re feeling festive, but not up for a full blown feast.
I see winter squashes in all the markets now. The larger ones are typically cut into manageable chunks while the smaller ones are sold intact. Ours weighed about 2 pounds and could easily serve 4 to 6 people as a side. It was quite filling as a main dish and neither of us could finish our portion. Fortunately the leftovers heated up nicely in the microwave.
You may be surprised to learn you can eat the skin of a butternut squash. That’s true for most of the thinner skinned winter squashes.
While onions can be substituted for leeks, I think the dish is better with the milder onion cousins. Their delicate flavor goes well with the hazelnuts and the butter, cream and cheese that are used to make the filling.
- 1 butternut squash about 2 pounds
- 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- several sprigs of fresh thyme (about a tablespoon dried)
- 2 large leeks, sliced thinly into half moons
- 1 small onion sliced thinly into half moons
- ½ cup crushed hazelnuts
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used swiss)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Cut the squash in half length ways and scoop out the seeds.
- Place cut side up in a roasting dish. Add the chopped garlic, a pat of butter and some thyme into the part where the seeds were then brush the neck with a little oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the flesh is tender and easily pierce by a knife.
- Remove from the oven and scoop out the flesh along with all of the liquids into a large bowl. Leave about a half inch on the sides so the squash holds its shape.
- While the squash is roasting, melt the rest of the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks, onion and more thyme until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the cream and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half. It should be very creamy.
- Use a masher to break up the flesh and stir in the hazelnuts and most of the cheese. Combine with the leeks.
- Transfer the filling to the empty squash halves and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
This is seriously good eating and could be veganized by substituting the dairy products.
This post is part of I Heart Cooking Clubs Monthly Potluck where we cook from any of the featured chefs. I had this Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe bookmarked from when he was featured and am glad to have had the opportunity to make it.
Be sure to drop by and see what the other bloggers have chosen to feature this week.