Butternut squash embellishes classic comfort food, says our kitchen garden cook.

The moment butternut squash arrives in the kitchen garden, I feel autumn, the time for comfort foods and earthy flavours, is truly upon us.

Autumn mac and cheese: Butternut-squash, macaroni and mozzarella bake

Cut the ends off a small butternut squash, peel, deseed and cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss in some olive oil and roast for 15–20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 400g of macaroni and drain. Melt 50g of butter in a pan, stir in 50ml of flour and heat before adding 500ml of milk. Whisk in 80g of grated Cheddar. Arrange the pasta, squash and small chunks of mozzarella in an ovenproof dish, then pour in the sauce. Top with 50g each of grated Parmesan and Cheddar, then bake for 15 minutes until golden.

More ways with butternut squash

mac and cheese

Roasted butternut-squash, halloumi and walnut tartines

Serves 2, generously

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 300g)
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 50g roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 45ml maple syrup
  • 45ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15ml apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 slices sourdough bread, toasted
  • 125g sliced halloumi
  • A handful red-veined sorrel

Method
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Wash the butternut squash and cut it in half vertically, removing the top and base, peel and then scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the squash into even, bite-sized pieces and toss in a bowl with the onion and a generous splash of olive oil. Arrange on a baking tray, top with the sprig of rosemary, roughly pulling a few leaves from it, and roast for about 20–25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix together the walnuts, chilli, maple syrup, extra-virgin olive oil, apple-cider vinegar and some seasoning, then set aside. Toast the sourdough and, in a small frying pan with a little olive oil, cook the halloumi for a few minutes on each side, until lightly browned.

Pour the walnuts and dressing over the onions and the butternut squash and toss together. Scatter with the red-veined sorrel and gently mix again.

To serve, spoon the butternut-squash mixture over the sourdough slices and top with a couple of slices of halloumi.

Butternut-squash and red-lentil curry

Fry a chopped onion in coconut oil until soft, then add 200g of chopped butternut squash and a crushed garlic clove. Scatter with a teaspoon each of crushed coriander seeds, turmeric and cumin plus 2 teaspoons of curry powder. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Pour in chicken stock to cover and add 100g of red lentils. Simmer gently until the lentils are soft and the consistency thickens. Serve with brown rice.

Butternut-squash filo tarts

Cut pastry into squares. Brush the inside of a muffin tin with butter and line each compartment with 4 overlapping squares, brushing butter between each layer. Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Mean-while, fry small cubes of butternut squash with a chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove, rosemary, thyme and seasoning. When cooked, fold in handfuls of fresh spinach and stir until wilted. Scatter with toasted pine nuts and chopped feta, spoon the mixture into the filo cases and serve with salad.