Fern Verrow Recipe: Baked Squash with Celery and Herb Cream
Want to eat fondue out of a squash? Try this gorgeous, rustic recipe from the Fern Verrow cookbook
And what better way to do just that than by treating yourself with this crushingly tempting new recipe for cheesy bakes squash.
Baked Squash with celery and herb cream
This recipe was devised on one of the rare occasions that we had a major power cut, with three young children needing to be fed and only the wood burner for warmth and cooking. We wrapped the squash in foil and tucked them into the edges of the wood burner, away from the flames. The children dipped cubes of bread into the cheesy, fondue-style filling. It became a popular supper dish in less chaotic times, too.
One favourite squashes to use for this recipe are Uchiki Kuri (also known as onion squash), Buttercup and Blue Ballet. All have dense, strongly flavoured flesh that soaks up flavours and fat without becoming mushy and marrow-like. The skin of the squash retains its beautiful, vibrant colour and is thin enough not to need peeling. We think it is the best part.
You can also serve this dish as a starter, using individual smaller squashes. The photo shows Sweet Dumpling – a very pretty striped and dimpled squash that is ideal for this.
Serves 2 hungry people
a 1-2kg squash, such as Uchiki Kuri, Buttercup or Blue Ballet
about 300ml crème fraîche (you need enough to fill the squash by three-quarters)
juice of ½ lemon
3 sprigs of celery leaves or 1 lovage leaf
2 sprigs of rosemary, thyme or sage
1 knob of butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
a little grated nutmeg or ½ cinnamon stick
150g good melting cheese, such as Comté, Gruyére or Cheddar, grated
sea salt and black pepper
To garnish (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 sage leaves
Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Cut the top off the squash to make a lid and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and a little of the flesh so that you are left with a clean squash bowl. To stop the squash toppling over, it is a good idea to make a base for it to sit on: take a roughly 30cm square piece of foil, squeeze it together and shape it into a ‘bracelet’. Put it in a roasting tin and place the squash on top.
Fill the squash three-quarters full with crème fraîche and then add the lemon juice, herb sprigs, butter, garlic and grated nutmeg or the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the lid back on the squash. Cover with foil and bake for at least an hour. The cooking time will vary, depending on the size of your squash. It is done when a sharp knife slides through the flesh with no resistance.
Remove the herb sprigs and sprinkle in the grated cheese. Place the squash back in the oven, without the foil, for about 10 minutes, until it has browned and the cheese is nice and gooey.
The fried sage garnish is optional, but it looks and tastes great. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and add the sage leaves, making sure they are completely dry if you have washed them. Fry for about 30 seconds, until crisp, then remove and place on kitchen paper to drain. Sprinkle the leaves on top of the squash filling.
The easiest way to serve this is to spoon out the creamy contents on to each person’s plate and then cut chunks off the squash horizontally, working your way down, Serve with toasted sourdough bread.