Words: Daniel Nowland
The changing of the season is always a fun time for those who love to cook. The new climate, the colours of the trees and the seasonal produce are always a novelty, especially in the time between autumn and Christmas.
Root veg really is the star of the show in autumn, and many of the products that you may see on supermarket shelves all year from countries such as Mexico or Peru, will suddenly be from Lincolnshire of Suffolk! Although perhaps a little cliche for autumn, I wanted to talk about squash and give you some ideas for their versatility.
The squash family includes many shapes and sizes from the massive pumpkins we see in October, to the artistic looking delicata or spaghetti varieties. The most readily available variety is probably the butternut squash, mainly because it is extremely versatile, has a great ratio of edible flesh and is easy to prepare. Some of the more obscure varieties can taste fantastic, but take some skilled kitchen surgery to get the best from them. The other big benefit of butternut squash is that providing it is roasted for long enough, the skin is deliciously soft and perfectly edible.
I always begin with roasting the squash, as this seems to deepen the flavour and create a gentle sweetness.
We love to use butternut squash this time of year in the deli, and these are some of my favourite recipe ideas…
1 Cut the squash in half along it’s vertical, longest side and scoop out the seeds from the centre. Rub it all over in olive oil, harissa and sea salt, before roasting it low and slow in a baking tray in the oven for around 1 hour at 170c. The dark, spicy and knarly quash is then delicious as the centre piece in a meal in place of a steak or roasted meat.
2 Half and de-seed the squash before cutting into random shaped wedges. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roast
for 30 minutes at 180c. Serve at room temperature on a bed of rocket, with crumbled feta, walnuts, quality olive oil and
a drizzle of balsamic.
3 De-seed and cut the squash into large wedges and rub with olive before roasting for 30 minutes at 180c. Scoop the flesh away from the skin and mash it with a little smoked chilli and sea salt. Mix roughly with a little top quality mozzarella and some chopped roasted tomatoes. This mixture is then my favourite filled pasta filling, but also delicious smeared onto toasted sourdough as an appetiser.