by Lori de Mori & Laura Jackson
from Towpath: Recipes & Stories (Chelsea Green Publishing)
Photography: Scott MacSween & Joe Woodhouse
The humble squash is a true sign that autumn is on the horizon. While September can still be warm and leave us with a few last balmy evenings, the days are starting to shorten, become crisp and cooler and you can feel the shift. This dish to me epitomises this time of year. The combination of the sweetness and earthiness of the squash with the crispy warmness of the sage work wonderfully as a pair. Add in a blob of rich, creamy and savoury ricotta and some caramelised sage and chilli butter and it warms the soul.
1 large or 2 medium crown prince squash, weighing around 2kg/4½lb
2 tablespoons olive oil
Caramelised Sage and Chilli Butter (see recipe below)
salt and pepper
Any type of pumpkin or squash could be used here. You will just need a robust variety that is happy to be roasted and doesn’t have a high water content like spaghetti squash.
Preheat the oven to 210°C fan/450°F/gas mark 8.
Cut the squash into four. If you have one big squash, be very careful as the skin is super tough – I put a tea towel between my hand and the tip of the knife to prevent my hand going through the top of the blade. Remove the seeds and discard. Remove the skin. I find using a serrated knife the best option and if you get slightly further under the skin, it’s much easier to remove – you want to remove the green colour under the skin. Cut into big wedges – I normally cut each quarter into three or four wedges lengthways.
Toss in the olive oil. Season and place on a large baking tray with the wedges standing up. Cook for about 25–35 minutes until the squash has browned and is fully cooked. This stage can be done in advance and kept in the fridge for 2–3 days and you can reheat without affecting the squash.
Make the Caramelised Sage and Chilli Butter (see recipe below).
Plate up using one large platter or four individual plates. Place a bit of ricotta on the bottom so that it can secure the squash wedges, then layer up a few of the squash wedges and scatter some blobs of ricotta around. Layer up the rest of the squash and blob more ricotta over and around.
To finish, generously drizzle over the caramelised sage and chilli butter with lots of sage and lots of the butter. Season.
Caramelised Sage and Chilli Butter
bunch of sage
150g/ 5½ oz butter, cut into pieces
½ lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ –1 teaspoon chilli flakes
salt and pepper
Pick the sage, saving the stalks for a stock.
In a medium-sized frying pan, place the butter in the pan with the sage leaves. Melt over a medium-low heat. Continue cooking until the sage leaves start crisping.
Turn the heat to low to prevent the butter and sage from burning.
Once the leaves are crispy, turn off the heat.
Add the lemon juice to prevent the sage and butter from cooking further. It will sizzle loudly!
Add the garlic and chilli flakes. Stir well and season to taste.
Pour into an appropriate container and leave in a warm place until needed.