Trick or Treat...
Is it October already? Where has the year gone! I know not everyone looks forward to Autumn and Winter, but I do as it brings lots of things that I love, especially Halloween and Christmas!
So grasp onto these wonderful occasions rather than thinking of the dark mornings and early evenings, although I actually find these mildly exciting as its and excuse to cosy up on the sofa a little earlier than usual!
But before you start planning your Christmas too much and heating up the mulled wine, there’s an evening of trick or treating to look forward to, closely followed by the 5th November, where we can cosy around the bonfire with a mug of mulled cider instead and watch the spectacular fireworks displays.
All of these occasions revolve around a feast or food of some description and one of my favourite things to use at this time of year is Pumpkin. It’s a cultivar of the squash plant hence its many appearances, so I’m not just referring to the lantern kind we carve for Halloween (aka the Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin).
Having said that this winter squash is so popular mainly due to Halloween when we all set about carving out scary faces and popping a candle inside, undoubtably great fun for children and adults alike! Fittingly it’s at this time its in its prime season, running from October through to December.
Carving aside, when it comes to eating your pumpkin, make sure you pick a smaller one that’s heavy for its size as it’ll have more flesh and a more intense flavour thats honied and sweet. Make sure the skin is smooth and firm too. I love how bright pumpkin is, it livens up so many dishes, but beauty aside it’s also a great source of fibre, along with having an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
There’s no mistaking the hard skin which requires hard graft getting into them. I put my squash on a tea towel to help prevent it from slipping, then using a large knife cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy bits and discard them. If its particularly big, cut it into quarters, pare off the skin, then cut into chunks or wedges, depending on what your using it for. To give an idea, if I’m roasting squash I tend to give it 30-40mins or for boiling it will need 15-20mins.
So delve into some autumnal cooking and use any variety of the winter crop to make soups or a sweet treat, or add it to stews or mash it up as a side, there’re plenty of ways to use up this golden treat.
For a little inspiration, here are my favourite ways to use the autumnal offering. A classic combination of flavours, Pumpkin risotto, with oodles of sage and a sprinkling of walnuts, or the traditional Thanksgiving dish Pumpkin Pie, but I like to finish mine off with a topping of meringue to make it even more sweet! I also love to roast pumpkin, it makes for a nice alternative to potatoes.
Whichever you choose, squash is undoubtably a wonderful addition to your winter warmers!