Ardross Farm News and Events

Winter Squash and Three Recipes

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Squash

As the seasons turn once again to Autumn the veg table at the front of the shop is changing. We have had pale green torpedo-shaped corn on the cob and sweet broad beans with their protective pods. Our own curly kale is back in full swing, its deep green or red leaves an indicator of how full of goodness they are. One of our favourite new additions at this time of year is the winter squash – spaghetti squash, acorn, turban, as well as the essential pumpkin.

Squashes came to our shores, along with corn on the cob and beans, from South and Central America, where there is evidence they have been cultivated for more than 8,000 years. It is rumoured that Christopher Columbus carried pumpkin seeds back from his travels, though it is likely that other travellers had already done so.

Although they are called winter squashes, to distinguish them from the thin-skinned courgettes and marrows, they grow during the warmer weather. Their thick, protective skins mean they can be stored over the winter, which is how they get their name.

The seeds of the squash can also be eaten – cleaned and dried and lightly toasted – as a nutritious and delicious snack. The seeds are high in protein, dietary fibre and the B vitamins. In Greece, a snack of toasted pumpkin seeds is known as “passatempo” – pastime.

Squashes are versatile – they work well roasted, boiled, steamed and mashed, in soups, in stews, even in winter salads. The skins can be left on to make preparation easier, and removed once the flesh is softened by cooking. Since the preparation can be time-consuming, several squashes can be prepared at once, and the cooked flesh stored in the freezer.

Venison Sausage and Pumpkin Traybake

1 pack venison sausages
1 large red onion
1 squash or pumpkin, washed, deseeded, and cut into wedges
Handful of fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp oil

  • Peel the onion and cut into wedges, leaving the root end intact to hold the wedges together.
  • Put the sausages, onion and squash/pumpkin into a large roasting tin.
  • Sprinkle over the torn sage leaves and oil, and toss to coat everything well.
  • Roast at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 40-50 minutes.
  • This traybake is good served with jacket potatoes cooked in the oven at the same time.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate and Feta Salad

1 squash or pumpkin
1 pack of Fet-like or Medita Feta-style cheese
1 pomegranate
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes or finely chopped fresh red chilli (Optional)
Handful fresh mint leaves
Mixed salad leaves to serve

  • Wash the squash and cut into wedges.
  • Separate the seeds from the stringy flesh and put them into a sieve or colander. Wash and dry them.
  • Place the squash into a roasting tin, sprinkle with cumin and drizzle with honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with chilli flakes if using. Roast at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 40-50 minutes, until well softened, and beginning to char. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan until they begin to pop, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Arrange the salad leaves onto a serving plate, and place the cooled squash on top, removing the skin if you prefer.
  • Crumble the feta over the top.
  • Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally, and tap with the back of a wooden spoon to extract the red seeds. Scatter the seeds over the pumpkin.
  • Scatter torn mint leaves and cooled pumpkin seeds to finish the dish.

 

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie is a traditional North American dish, eaten at Thanksgiving, in November. This is a recipe for the filling.

Peel, deseed and dice 750g Butternut Squash or Pumpkin, and roast or boil until soft. Allow to cool, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat two eggs with 140g caster sugar, half teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in 175 ml milk and 25g melted butter. Combine with the pureed squash, and pour into a pre-cooked pastry shell.

Sprinkle the top with a half teaspoon nutmeg, and bake at 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.

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