It is nearly Halloween and the fields are full of pumpkins so I thought I would devote this week purely to them. If you are passing any of the four Riverford’s farms celebrating “pumpkin day”, be sure to pay them a visit. Apparently it’s a real family friendly event with plenty to keep everyone entertained, including pumpkin carving, face painting, wildlife spotting, chilli stringing, Christmas food and drink tasters and plenty of organic refreshments. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it as I’m off to Sardinia for, hopefully, a little last sun before winter truly sets in. However, these pumpkin recipes, with their beautiful, bright orange colours, are full of sunshine too.
First up, a variation of salad from Ottolenghi. Unusually for a Ottolenghi recipe it has surprisingly few ingredients in it (and I even managed to cut some of those down) and it is really very easy and quick. You don’t even have to peel the squash.
I wanted to serve my version as a salad so I added couple of handfuls of wild rocket leaves. Remember you can use one of the many different varieties of pumpkin to replace the butternut squash. Try kabocha which also does not need peeling. Don’t forget that Riverford are selling a Squash Box right now with a selection of at least three different varieties for £9.95.
Roast Butternut Squash and Red Onion Salad with Tahini Dressing
1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
30g pine nuts
A couple of handfuls of salad leaves, such as rocket
A little extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, mixed to make a salad dressing
Heat the oven to 180C. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water & a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency thin cream, adding more water or tahini as necessary.
Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.
To serve, dress the leaves with the salad dressing and scatter them on a large plate. Top with the vegetables. Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Scatter the pine nuts on top.