Is there a vegetable more evocative of autumn? Doubtful. The pumpkin’s versatility is often overlooked though; it has a lot more to offer than pie. In the recipes below I have brightened sweet winter squash flesh with lemongrass, ginger and chilli in a smooth soup and stuck with the Asian flavours that suit the pumpkin family so well
Miniature squash, baked with a fondue of gruyere, white wine and sage
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 small, whole pumpkins or winter squash
50g salted butter, very soft
a handful sage leaves
375ml dry white wine
400g Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tbsp plain flour or cornflour (to make this gluten-free)
Crusty bread, warmed through to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan, gas 6. Slice the stalky tops (the ‘lids’) off each pumpkin about a quarter of the way down the vegetable, exposing the seeds inside. Scrape these out with a spoon (if they look plump and shiny, rinse them and reserve for later), make sure the inside of the lids are scraped clean too, and rub the insides with most of the butter. Season with salt and pepper, pop a sage leaf or two into each and stand the pumpkins on a baking tray, lids tucked in alongside. Roast for 40 minutes, until the flesh in tender and the skin beginning to caramelise. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas 4. Pour the wine into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil for a few seconds. Reduce the heat so that the wine is barely simmering. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and warm through at the same time. Toss 350g gruyere cheese with the flour to coat the strands finely. Now add this cheese mixture to the wine, one small handful at a time, stirring in between each addition and making sure the cheese has melted smoothly before adding any more. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the fondue mixture between the pumpkins, filling them almost to the top and leaving the sage leaves in place. Rub the remaining butter over the remaining sage leaves and spread out, on and around the pumpkin, along with a handful of pumpkin seeds if they were worth saving. Top with the remaining gruyere and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Serve with warm bread for dipping and spoons to eat the roast pumpkin ‘bowls’.
Butternut squash soup with Thai spices
Roasting the soup ingredients in the oven intensifies their flavour and makes this a very easy recipe. An array of toppings, scattered over to serve, really make this soup, but you can pick and choose which you use. Crisp, frazzled shallots can be found in Asian shops or some large supermarkets; just miss them out or frazzle some fresh ones in a frying pan if you can’t find them.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
650g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (prepared weight)
2tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
4 small Thai shallots or 2 normal shallots
1 thumb ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 lemongrass sticks, trimmed and sliced
2 red chillies, 1 deseeded and roughly chopped, 1 finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, left whole in skins
400ml light coconut milk
400ml veg stock
light soy sauce, black pepper and lime juice, to season
A handful cashews, toasted and roughly crushed
A small handful of coriander sprigs
2tbsp fried shallots, optional
Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Toss the diced pumpkin or squash with the oil, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, the roughly chopped chilli and the whole garlic cloves. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 1 hour, until very tender. Tip half the pumpkin into a blender with the coconut milk and blitz until very smooth. Pour into a large saucepan then repeat the blitzing with the remaining pumpkin mixture and the vegetable stock. Pour this in with the first batch and stir well. Place the pan over a low heat and gently bring to the boil, stirring often. Simmer gently for 5 minutes then season to taste with soy sauce, black pepper and lime juice. Divide between warmed bowls and scatter with the toasted cashews, coriander, sliced chilli and crisp shallots (if using) just before eating.
For more delicious recipes, have a look at our Pinterest page.
Recipes Alice Hart
Styling Karen Akhtar
Photogrpahs Ali Allen