BE adventurous with the sausages you use. I like using spicy Italian ones which often contain fennel as well as chilli, Toulouse or just good farmhouse sausages. Buy the best you can afford. This recipe serves 4.
1 onion, chopped
2 rashers streaky bacon, snipped into lardons
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or a good pinch of dried
225g (8oz) Puy lentils
500ml (18fl oz) chicken stock (I use a supermarket pouch)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parsley to decorate
1 small butternut squash
1. Heat a little oil in a sauté pan that has a lid or a casserole. Brown the sausages all over and remove from the pan to a plate. Add the onion, bacon and carrot and a little more olive oil if necessary and fry until beginning to soften.
2. Add the lentils and stir over the heat for a minute or so before adding the stock and plenty of ground black pepper. No salt at this stage. Bring up to the boil, cover with the lid and simmer very gently for 35 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but still have a little bite to them. They shouldn't be mushy. Season with salt.
3. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 220C/425/Gas 7. Halve and remove the seeds from the butternut squash, no need to peel it, and cut into bite-sized chunks. Toss with a little olive oil and salt in a roasting tin, spread out in one layer and cook at the top of the oven for 20-30 minutes or until beginning to brown and caramelise, turning once half-way through the cooking time.
4. Serve the casserole with a little Dijon mustard swirled over the top, some roughly chopped parsley and the butternut squash scattered over the top. If you prefer serve the squash separately.
Prepare to the end of Step 3 up to two days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Re-heat both components in a moderate oven when required.