Recipes: Allotment Diary
Gourds are the jewels in autumn’s culinary crown, says Katie Moore of Allotment, the catering company she runs from her Cambridgeshire home and garden
I love the colours at this time of year, and how the rusty reds and oranges are mirrored in the amazing array of squashes and pumpkins on display at farm shops and markets. There’s a gourd for every occasion and this first recipe works beautifully with the nutty round onion squash, though butternut squash would be a perfectly acceptable substitute. We’re all so familiar with avocado toast, it’s time to mix it up with a vegetable that can be seasonally sourced in the UK and lends itself wonderfully to a huge array of additional toppings.
Smashed Squash on Toast & Pickled Grapes
2 thick slices of sourdough
1 onion squash
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs of rosemary
2-3 tbsp olive oil
½ lemon, zest
Handful of kale leaves
500g red or black grapes
250ml red wine vinegar
65g caster sugar
1tsp black peppercorns
1tsp mustard seeds
First of all prepare your pickled grapes as they need to infuse for at least an hour, but will keep in the fridge for up to a week and are delicious in salads or as part of a cheeseboard. Put the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices in a small pan and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, pick the grapes off the stalks and slice each one in half. Divide them between two sterilised 500ml jars then pour over the pickling liquid to cover the grapes.
Heat your oven to 180 degrees. Peel the onion squash, then cut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds from the middle. Chop the flesh into wedges and toss in 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking tray with the rosemary sprigs and roast for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway to roast evenly.
While your squash roasts, roughly tear up your kale leaves, discarding the very thick middle stalks, and place in a bowl with the remaining olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Gently massage the kale for a couple of minutes until the leaves are soft and delicate.
Once your squash is roasted, transfer to a bowl and roughly mash with a fork.
Toast your sourdough, then top with a good smear of the smashed squash, a handful of kale leaves, crumbled feta, and a scattering of pickled grapes.
Pumpkin pie is often considered to be a very American dessert, made with a time saving tin of pumpkin puree, and only wheeled out when friends from across the pond are throwing a Thanksgiving party. But made from scratch with roasted pumpkin and a lovely buttery pastry, it is a delicious autumnal dessert, perfectly paired with boozy whipped cream or ginger ice cream.
For the pie crust:
250g plain flour
½ tsp salt
125g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
65g ice cold water
For the pie filling:
250g pumpkin puree from 1 pumpkin
125g brown sugar
200ml double cream
Pinch of salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and butter until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water to the bowl and mix until the dough just comes together into a ball, then tip the contents out onto a piece of cling film, wrap, and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees. Cut your pumpkin in half if small, or quarters if slightly larger, and scoop out the seeds from the middle. Place flesh side down in a roasting tray with a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of water, then roast for 50-60 minutes until cooked all the way through. Turn off the oven and leave the pumpkin to cool on a wire rack.
Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin away from the flesh, and whizz up the flesh in a food processor until completely smooth. Place a sieve over a bowl, then tip the contents of the food processor into the sieve and set aside for at least half an hour for the orange liquid to drain out, leaving you with a thicker puree.
While the pumpkin is draining, on a well-floured work top, roll your pastry out to approximately the thickness of a £1 coin. Grease a 20cm pie dish with butter then carefully drape your pastry into the dish and push into the edges. Pierce the base with a fork a few times then put the dish in the fridge to rest for 30 mins. Turn your oven back on to 170 degrees.
Once rested, line your pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 10 minutes until the base is golden.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your pumpkin puree, sugar, cream, eggs, salt and spices until you have a smooth creamy consistency.
Pour in your pumpkin mixture then return to the oven for 35-45 minutes until the filling is set, but still has a wobble in the middle. Leave to cool on a wire rack then slice up and serve with a generous scoop of cream or ice cream.
For more information – including where to find Katie’s fabulous food – follow @allotmentcafe and see allotmentcafe.com.