Saturday 30 September 2017

RECIPE: Cheesy butternut squash and sage autumn bake

Autumnal recipe for butternut squash, sage, sausage and cheese pasta bake that can be made vegetarian

Matt started a new job a few weeks ago, and on his first day I wanted to make a special dinner as a treat, because nothing says 'I love you' like ALL THE FOOD, right? Certainly not in my book, anyway.

I had a butternut squash to use up and, because I was feeling all autumnal (yes, this was during the totally non-summery August we had), I decided to make a butternut squash, sage and sausage pasta bake. I very vaguely used this recipe as a guide, but very quickly started to ignore the recipe, so I mostly winged the entire thing. And I have to say, it was awesome. Probably one of the best things I’ve ever made. Make it now, and you will not regret it - it would also be equally delicious without the sausage, so good for vegetarians, too.

Autumnal recipe for butternut squash, sage, sausage and cheese pasta bake that can be made vegetarian

Cheesy butternut squash and sage autumn bake
1 small butternut squash
6 x good quality sausages (I used 97% pork ones from M&S)
1 red onion
1 packet of sage
1 pint milk (semi-skimmed is fine)
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
50g butter (Lurpak/Lurpak Lighter is fine)
4 cloves garlic
1 bag spinach (about 100g)
300g fresh mozzarella
135g blue cheese (I used Stilton)
Salt and pepper to taste
320g pasta (based on 40g / portion)

Serves 8

1. Prepare your pasta as per the cooking instructions. The quantities above serves about 8, but you could probably add a little more pasta and up the portions or the portion sizes – it’s quite saucy.
2. Chop up your butternut squash into small cubes, discarding the seeds and pulp inside (although you can save the seeds and toast them with a little salt for a delicious snack)
3. Toss the squash with a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil, a sprinkle of dry rosemary (about a tablespoon but I’m pretty liberal) and some salt and pepper, then lay out on an oven tray and bake at 200c for 25 minutes
4. While that’s cooking, remove the skins from your sausages and chop into small lumps about 2cm wide. Roll the lumps into little meatballs.
5. In a big frying pan or wok (I heartily recommend a wok), pop your butter and then add the sausage balls and 4 cloves of crushed garlic. Finely chop your sage and red onion, and throw those in too. Cook this all for about 5-10 minutes until the sausages are cooked through and the vegetables are soft.
6. Your kitchen will smell amazing right about now.
7. Add about 3/4s of the milk to the pan, along with a teaspoon of nutmeg and let it warm through. Then, combine two tablespoons of cornflour with a little water to make a slurry, and add that to the pan too. Stir well and let the sauce thicken.
8. The squash should be just about done now, so throw in 3/4s of that to the pan. Put the remaining quarter of squash in a blender or food processor (I used my BlendActive) with the little bit of milk you held back. Blend until it forms a smooth paste.
9. Stir the squash paste into the pan and stir through until it’s combined with the milk. Let everything bubble and absorb for a couple of minutes, stirring well, and then add your spinach and let it wilt into the sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.
10. Add the cooked pasta and stir well until it’s evenly coated in the sauce.
11. At this stage, you can call the recipe done and serve, or you can bake it with cheese. I recommend the latter, but it’s actually super delicious without.
12. If you go for the cheese option, transfer the pasta to an ovenproof dish.
13. You can either transfer the whole lot, or transfer it in portions of 1 or 2 and hold the rest back to be frozen. I actually portioned it up into 4 dishes – each big enough for 2 portions – topped them with cheese, let them cool and then covered them with foil and froze them, ready to be baked. But you could also freeze without cheese.
14. Top with mozzarella and crumbled blue cheese. The quantities listed above should be enough for 8 portions, but obviously you can up or lower the cheese depending on what you fancy.
15. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200c until the cheese is just starting to brown. Serve and eat immediately. Feel free to lick the bowl.

I'm so glad that I remembered to write this up as soon as I made it, because I'm hankering to make it again now. I don't cook with sage very often, so when I do, it's like this delicious new flavour that I'm not used to and it's the gosh darn best.

Autumnal recipe for butternut squash, sage, sausage and cheese pasta bake that can be made vegetarian


  1. Yum yum yum! Bookmarking this, the perfect autumn evening dinner :) Hope Matt's new job is going well x

  2. Oh my gosh, this looks so good!


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