The gourd leaves turn the same color as their skins as the nights get darker. It’s exciting after watching my squashes grow from spongy, leafy seedlings to plump, bulbous fruits over the summer.
Growing squash and pumpkins yourself can be a lot of fun. They are high-yielding if they’re well-fed and hydrated. You can also experiment with different varieties and move away from butternut, though this is still a good option.
It’s worth looking for new varieties if you are buying them. Acorn and delicata are my favorites because they are honeyed and intensely sweet. If you can, grab some spaghetti squash. It’s called spaghetti squash because its cooked flesh separates into fine strands that resemble spaghetti. Toss it with herbs and butter, and serve alongside a pan-fried halloumi or chicken breast.
You can make a variety of meals with a pumpkin or squash. They are sweet, making them suitable for both savory and sweet dishes. Don’t throw away those glistening, iridescent seeds. You can crisp them up in the oven with salt, chili powder, sesame seeds, and a dash of rapeseed or sesame oil.
The oven-roasting technique is my favorite for caramelizing the meat and bringing out sugars from the squash. You can also pan-fry the squash if you cut it small enough. This is great for risottos, but nothing beats a slice of oven-roasted squash with crisp edges and toffee-sweet meat. Avoid peeling the squash. Most squash will roast beautifully if you cut them into wedges and leave the skin on. Once cooked, they can be easily peeled.
If you are making soup or puree, peeling the pumpkin is necessary. You can combine the sweet meat and the spicy chipotle chili in a casserole. Purees with lots of butter are perfect for mixing with sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and other warm spices. Follow the Italians and use fried sage to accompany pumpkin or squash in savory recipes. No other herb is as delicious as this woody, savory leave.
Roasted squash with goat cheese and Puy lentils
* 800g butternut, delicata, or acorn squash
* 4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
* 25g of pumpkin seeds or the seeds of the pumpkins and squashes you are using
* ten sage leafs
* 2 tablespoons of good-quality red wine vinegar
* 250g pouch cooked Puy lentils
* 100g soft goat cheese (I prefer the rosary Ash one from Ocado).
* 4 amaretti biscuits
* 100g of kale, washed and dried. Remove thick stems, then tear leaves into crisp-sized pieces.
* 1/2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
* 1 tbsp of white sesame seeds
* 1 tsp red chili flakes
Heat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/gas 3. Then, lightly toss the sesame, chili, sesame oil, and 12 tsp salt. Massage the leaves with the oil until they are coated. You may need to use several baking trays or roasting pans to keep the leaves in one layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes until crisp but not browned.
Remove the dried squash from the oven, and increase the temperature to 200C/180C Fan/gas 6. Half the squash in half and remove the seeds. The seeds should be washed to remove the membrane and dried with kitchen paper. Slice the squash into 1-cm-thick slices, but don’t peel them. Arrange on a baking tray or roasting pan. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of oil over the squash, season, and then turn it. Drizzle with more oil. Then season again, and roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes until they are tender and caramelizing. Turn them halfway through. Remove the dish from the oven.
3) Heat the remaining oil in a nonstick frying pan until it shimmers. Add the sage and fry them for 15-30 seconds, rotating once. Use tongs or slotted spoons to remove the leaves, then place them on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt. Add the pumpkin seeds into the hot oil, and fry until crispy and puffed. Pour the oil into a bowl, add the red wine vinegar and freshly ground pepper, and whisk.
4) Spread the lentils on the serving plate or plates with half of the dressing. Add the goat’s-cheese crumbles and arrange the kale, squash, and crispy seeds on top. Drizzle over some more sauce. Then, sprinkle the fried seeds, crumbled amaretti biscuits, and crisp sage leaves.