Half a small butternut squash per person is ideal at lunchtime or even as a main meal. Serve with dressed salad and bread
- 3 x 400g (14oz) butternut squash, halved lengthways through the stalk and seeds and fibres discarded
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 150ml (5fl oz) water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 200g (7oz) smoked bacon lardoons
- 2 leeks, sliced
- 250g (9oz) chestnut mushrooms, quartered
- 100g (31⁄2oz) baby spinach
- 100ml (31⁄2fl oz) double cream
- 75g (21⁄2oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- freshly chopped parsley, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200˚C (180˚C fan/400˚F/Gas 6). Put the squash cut side up in a large roasting tin (two tins for 12) and drizzle over the oil. Pour the water around them, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, put the lardons into a dry frying pan and stir over a medium heat until the fat comes out. Add the leeks and cook slowly for 10 minutes or until soft. Add the mushrooms and spinach and stir together over a high heat for 10 minutes or until the spinach has wilted and the mushrooms are nearly cooked.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream, some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and half the cheese. Scoop out some of the cooked squash, leaving a 2cm (3⁄4in) border inside each squash case, and stir into the spinach mixture. Spoon the mixture into the squash cases and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden on top and heated through. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve.
The squash can be prepared up to the end of step 3 up to 1 day ahead.