**Recipe** Sausage and squash bake with a crispy nutty topping

It’s a touch on the cold side at the moment; I feel like I want to hibernate and really needed something fatty fat fat.  I know it’s probably deeply untrendy at the moment but I’ve never been one to keep up with trends.  I need the fat.  It’s going to help me get through the winter.  I had a few bits and bobs needing using up in the fridge.  This is what I was working with:

½ red onion

½ butternut squash (the end with the seeds….not that it matters much)

some spinach

a couple of pieces of Serrano ham

mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan

And I think that was it.

I had thought about what I was going to make all day.  I’ll bake the squash and spinach with the breadcrumbs and have sausages on the side.  Which, after what I consider to be a genius flash of inspiration, evolved into sausage and squash bake.  I added chopped walnuts to the topping.  If I’m going all out with the fatty fat I may as well throw some nuts in there too.  In retrospect I would have preferred kale instead of spinach and I think the ham got a bit lost so wouldn’t bother with that next time.  I cooked onion and garlic up in a big hunk of butter for extra fatty comfort, took the skins off the sausages and broke them up into the onions.  When the onion had softened I turned the heat up so the crumbled sausage meat went all brown and crispy and the whole lot was swimming in fatty golden unctuousness.

Sausage and squash bake with a crispy nutty topping 

Serves 4

25g unsalted butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

6 Cumberland or herby sausages skins removed

500g butternut squash peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks

200 g spinach washed and roughly chopped

200ml vegetable stock

100g white breadcrumbs

50g parmesan grated

80g walnuts roughly chopped

2 pieces ham roughly torn (optional)

Preheat the oven the 180ºC.  Melt the butter with the olive oil over a moderate heat in a lidded wide frying pan.  Add the onion and when starting to soften add the garlic.  Add the sausages and then break them up with a wooden spoon.  When the sausages are broken up and cooked turn the heat up slightly to brown them, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Turn the heat down, add the squash and put the lid on the pan.  Cook gently until the squash is almost cooked through (about 15 minutes).  Add the spinach, ham if using and the stock and bring to the boil.  Transfer to an oven proof dish.  Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese and walnuts then sprinkle over the sausage and squash.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the bake is bubbling.  Serve with lots of buttery mashed potato.



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