Botanically identical to tender-skinned summer squashes, winter squashes are my unsung hero of autumn-winter eating. Not only do they keep well – you can forget about them for over a month and they will still love you – they are just about the most useful and delicious of the cold weather crops. Butternut squash, acorn, Delicata, kabocha, Hubbard, sugar pie, red kuri, spaghetti, Hokkaido – and loads more – their tough unyielding armour holds rich, sweet, nutritious flesh.
Winter squashes are lovely just diced and sauteed with your favourite over-wintering herbs such as thyme, sage or rosemary. Their texture also makes terrific naturally creamy-tasting soups and comforting slow-baked gratins. One of our favourite, no-brainer ways with any squash is just plainly roasted, with maybe some garlic on the tray, and added to a risotto. I will post my three-grain pumpkin and chard risotto soon. I have found that winter squashes partner well with most any protein – with perhaps the exception of white fish – and are a great foil for bitter greens, tangy cheeses, earthy root vegetables and cooked beans. In other words, a vegetarian’s dream.
Although most squashes are harvested in the autumn they are available from now until early spring, giving much needed colour to winter meals. During this time of year I am never knowingly without some kind of winter squash waiting patiently in a cool cupboard (or the garage!). They are such a winter staple food here at food to glow that as soon as I use one I feel compelled to stock up on more. I feel similarly about kale, olive oil and lemons. Yeah, I’m a bit weird.
This hummus (of sorts) is a new direction for me. Although I have a smoked paprika butternut squash and almond dip that we love, this is the first time I have more or less used a squash with hummus intent. This is incredibly light on first eating but firms up after an overnight spell in the refrigerator, so loosen it if you like with a little stock or good olive oil. In fact I loosened it enough to make a little bowl of soup for myself, topping it with a tiny swirl of walnut oil. Instant soup
Food To Glow is going on holiday for a wee bit. I may get a chance to post something while I’m away but if I don’t manage it, I’ll be back soon with more healthy cold weather recipes. Until then, happy cooking – and eating xxx
What autumn-winter food can you not do without?
Two years ago: Crispy and Sticky Black Pepper Tofu
Miss R’s track of the week: “I Sat By The Ocean” by Queens of the Stone Age - because that’s what we will be doing for 2 weeks!
Of course, like my beetroot and cashew hummus, this pumpkin version isn’t really hummus. Although Middle Eastern spicing influences both dips, this one probably comes closer: at least it has tahini in it. But still no chickpeas. If you desire a super creamy traditional one, try My Perfect Hummus. This easy recipe is dedicated to the significant minority who cannot easily digest legumes – this has all the taste but is lighter, and without ‘consequences.’
Roasted Pumpkin Hummus and the Cauliflower and Walnut Crumble topping is not only easily put together but independently useful. In addition to the ‘normal’ uses I have tried the hummus on its own as a rich, silky stir-through sauce for pasta (with a dousing of olive oil), stuffed into cherry tomatoes (delish but fiddly with my poor fine-motor skills) and thinned down with stock and slurped as soup. And the crumble topping can grace gratins (probably it’s natural home), be used to anoint fish and chicken for grilling, and just as a topping for pasta and hot or cold salads – vegetable or grain. You will think of other uses, I’m sure.
This hummus sounds unusual but if you get a flavourful pumpkin you may just fall in love. We have.
1 small pumpkin (about 500g/1 lb), deseeded OR other winter squash
2 tbsp olive oil
5 garlic clove
Juice of half a lemon (about 3 tbsp)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp light tahini
1 tbsp za’atar (optional, see below)
Pumpkin seeds, toasted in a hot pan until a few pop (optional, to serve)
Extra good olive oil (optional, to serve)
150g cauliflower, blitzed in a food processor to form crumbs (some will still be chunky- that’s good for texture)
75g walnuts, coarsely tumbled in a food processor
2 tsp za’atar (bought or see below) OR other Middle Eastern seasoning blend
good pinch salt (I use smoked Maldon salt, but use any kind you like)
Za’atar: 2 tbsp dried thyme, 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 tbsp ground sumac (Bart’s and Steenberg’s in the UK), 1 tbsp each dried oregano and marjoram, 1 tsp sea salt (I use smoked). Whiz these briefly in a spice mill/coffee grinder and store in a tightly lidded small jar. I use this stuff all the time.
1. First of all, the pumpkin. If it is awkwardly ridged, and not at all conducive to peeling without cursing, slice into wedges and rub all over with the oil. If you want to peel it, go ahead, chopping the flesh and rubbing with oil.
2. Take three of the garlic cloves, smash lightly and rub these with oil too. Lay all on a tray and roast for about 30 minutes, turning the pumpkin and garlic half way through cooking. When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and – using a spoon – scoop the pumpkin from its frazzled skin. Pop the pumpkin flesh and peeled, roasted garlic in a food processor.
3. Using a pestle and mortar smash the two remaining garlic cloves (peel first) with the salt, then add in the lemon. Make a cohesive paste and add to the food processor bowl, along with the cumin, tahini and za’atar. You can skip this step but these are harder for food processors to mix well compared to the soft, yielding pumpkin. Doing this tiny step keeps from having to blitz the whole thing to the consistency of baby food.
4. While the pumpkin and garlic are doing thing in the oven, toss together the crumbed walnuts, cauliflower, za’atar and salt. Lay this thinly on another baking tray and bake in the oven for the last half of the pumpkin cooking time, turning halfway with a spatula. You can mix through a little oil but I don’t think it is necessary as the oil in the walnuts seems to do a good enough job.
To serve, spread the pumpkin hummus in a serving bowl and either let everyone help themselves to hummus and crumble as they wish, or sprinkle over a generous amount of crumble with extra on the side. Goes wherever chickpea humus goes – with flatbreads, with cut vegetables, with other meze dishes.
There will be leftover crumble. This can be revived in a hot pan (with maybe a touch of oil) and used on any remaining hummus. We had leftovers with grilled lettuce, fried capers, chopped salad things and thinly sliced and toasted sourdough bread. It is great in hot pasta too.
Serves up to 6 as an appetizer, or with a light lunch/mezze. Refrigerate leftovers separately and eat within five days.
I’m entering this deeply autumnal recipe to a few bloghops this week. Firstly to Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura at How To Cook Good Food for their joint One Ingredient roundup, this month starring Walnuts. Check. And over to Heather at Sweet Mission for her Sweet Wednesday Link Up Party for a variety of interesting and not always sweet entries