No butternut squash risotto allowed! Sorry, I don’t hate risotto but am I the only one who’s noticed that this is the ‘go to’ dish for any chef who needs a vegetarian option for their menu?? I don’t mind if I only get one option at a restaurant or pub but I’d love it if that option was just a little bit more creative please. Anyway! Here are a few different recipes for these very versatile vegetables…
My top five recipes for pumpkin and winter squash
There are of course many different varieties of squash – these recipes should work fine with most winter varieties which have a hard outer skin (unlike summer squash such as courgette / zucchini which have a thinner, soft skin) or even with some sweet potato. The most popular variety of squash in the UK seems to be butternut squash which is a bit less watery than pumpkin but has a similar flavour. If using one of the smaller, oddly shaped varieties I find it’s easiest to bake them until the flesh is soft and then scoop it out.
- Mexican: Squash goes perfectly with Mexican flavourings like chilli and spices. Roast cubes of squash and use in my simple recipe for wraps, or add some chipotle peppers and make quesadillas, or try Jane Baxter’s roasted squash and chilli recipe with corn, feta and green salsa.
- Pumpkin, feta and caramelised onion pie: This is a simple recipe but the flavours really work well together. When I cook this I make my own pastry and caramelise the onions myself (just cook for 30-45 minutes on low heat, adding a little bit of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar at the end), but feel free to use the cheats suggested in the recipe.
- Pumpkin chutney: Many people wouldn’t think of making chutney with squash or pumpkin but it works brilliantly and of course helps to preserve a glut. The soft, sweet flesh melts into the other flavours and the final product doesn’t have a strong pumpkin flavour but is definitely delicious.
- Pumpkin bread: A loaf of pumpkin bread in the oven is the perfect smell for autumn and winter. Those classic warming spices are perfect partners for pumpkin and squash and the soft flesh ensures the final product is beautifully moist. Mmmm.
- Pumpkin with sage and brown butter: I will never forget the pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter sauce I ate while on holiday in Florence many years ago. It’s one of a handful of dishes that has remained in my memory for years and I’ve been trying to recreate the experience ever since. There are lots of ways to do it – make pumpkin gnocchi or ravioli or lasagne, or just mix the roasted squash and sage sauce with some noodles. (Or you could even put the squash and sage in a risotto if you must!)
And here’s one more recipe that is definitely a classic – soup! There are endless varieties and soup is super simple to make, so it’s not so much a recipe as a few suggestions and ideas…
Pumpkin soup 3 ways:
Thai: Sweat chopped onions until really soft and sweet, than add red curry paste, coconut milk, stock and squash. When the squash is soft, blend until smooth.
Winter vegetable: Cook chopped onion and leeks in butter, maybe with some celery if you have it, then add chopped winter vegetables and stock. This is a perfect way to use up whatever you’ve got to hand – parsnips, carrots, potatoes, celeriac, swede (aka rutabaga – totally a better name!) or even jerusalem artichokes. These vegetables also go well with curry spices so I usually add some. I like to blend my soup or you can leave it chunky.
Spicy: Cook chopped onion in a bit of butter until soft. Add chopped squash, red chilli and stock, plus either red lentils or sweetcorn (tinned or fresh is fine). When soft, blend briefly, leaving some texture. For a creamier finish, add some creme fraiche, sour cream, single cream or blend in some cooked rice.
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