Now is the time to enjoy squash, kale and a glut of apples
Hearty squash soup
A bowl of bright orange for Halloween month
1 large squash (such as butternut)
2 dessert spoons coconut oil
1 clove chopped garlic
2 chopped shallots
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground ginger
1 chopped tomato
1 handful cashew nuts (soaked overnight if possible)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 dessert spoon pumpkin seeds (use dry shop-bought seeds – the ones you take from the squash will be too wet)
*Cut the squash in half (lengthways, if it’s a butternut), scoop out the seeds, brush with coconut oil and put in a 200°C oven for 1-1½ hours (until a fork slides through the flesh with ease).
*Just before the squash is cooked, warm the rest of the coconut oil in a shallow pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot, let it soften for a minute, and then add the garlic and the spices. After another 1-2 mins, add the tomato and the cashews and cover the pan with a lid.
*While that is cooking, toast the pumpkin seeds by scattering them over a hot frying pan. When they are flecked golden brown, remove from the heat.
*Once the tomato has softened, add the stock and let it bubble gently for 5 mins.
*Finally, pour into a blender with the scooped out squash flesh and the toasted seeds. Blend until smooth.
*Serve with a splash of cream and/or paprika.
Kale & mushroom peasant
Peasant is my slang word for any rough and ready, rustic dish that suits a cold day.
3 tbsp walnut oil
1 clove chopped garlic
2 small chopped shallots
2 tbsp seaweed, such as Arame (soaked for at least an hour if possible)
175g sliced meaty mushrooms (you can buy organic shiitakes all year round from Maesyffin Mushrooms in Wales; they also sell dried shiitakes, which have a stronger flavour, so use less in the recipe)
150g chopped Tuscan kale (Cavolo nero). Tear the leaves away from the spines and discard the spines.
6 tbsp vegetable stock
Pinch black pepper
100g Puy or black (Urad) lentils (soak overnight if possible)
2 slices of stale bread or breast crust, ripped into chunks. I use walnut and raisin bread, but any loaf will do.
Splash of lemon juice
*Cook the lentils by adding them to boiling water and then simmering for as long as it takes to soften them (usually 45 mins). When they are ready, begin to make the rest of the dish:
*Warm 1-2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and then add the bread. Cook until golden brown and then dress with a little lemon juice.
*Meanwhile, in a sauté pan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of walnut oil over a medium heat. Add the shallots, let them soften for a minute or two, and then add the garlic and the seaweed. After a minute or so, add the mushrooms and cover the pan with a lid.
*When the mushrooms begin to soften and brown, add the kale and the stock. Once the kale is cooked (5 mins), stir in the lentils, a pinch of pepper and the bread, and serve.
Apple & pecan crumble
A simple, syrupy pud to curl up with
150g cold butter
3 apples (core and slice)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp water
125g flour (I use wholegrain spelt)
75g ground almonds
75g chopped/pounded pecan nuts
3 dessert spoons raw cane sugar (if you want to be sugar-free, use 2 tbsp maple syrup instead – it will produce a much wetter mix, but still tastes good)
¼ tsp ground mace
*Set the oven to 200°C.
*Put the apples in a pan with 50g of butter, the maple syrup and one tablespoon of water. Cover with a lid and cook over a low-moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until they soften and begin to ooze syrup.
*Meanwhile, cut the rest of the butter into cubes and place in a bowl, along with the flour. Use your fingertips to rub the two together until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
*In a separate bowl mix the mace and ground almonds together. Then add them, along with the sugar and the pecans to the crumble mixture; stir with a fork. Add a tablespoon of water and mix again with the fork.
*Spread the apples over the base of an ovenproof pie dish. Then cover with the crumble.
*Put on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
*Serve with custard.
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