Squash and pumpkin's autumn flavours

As summer gives way to autumn, the shops are full of squashes, gourds and pumpkins. They look colourful and enticing but it isn’t always obvious how to cook them. Although many people think pumpkins are just for making Halloween lanterns, these vegetables can be an excellent alternative to more familiar vegetables for your five a day.

Butternut squash responds brilliantly to roasting. It can be halved, deseeded and roasted for forty minutes or so until tender. The hollow that held the seeds is perfect for a stuffing, perhaps with tomato and basil, a little cottage cheese or diced ham and creamed leeks.

Finely diced squash, well-seasoned, also works well in a slowly-cooked risotto. Topped with grated parmesan and ground black pepper, this makes a simple but comforting lunch.

Gourd and squash flesh can be diced into substantial chunks and basted with a little olive oil and rosemary to make a sweeter alternative to roast potatoes. Cooked until their edges begin to caramelise, they are a perfect accompaniment to roast pork or a leg of lamb for Sunday lunch.

Spice up your soups

When you have a mountain of pumpkin flesh left over from your Halloween carving sessions, a soup is the obvious solution. Mix with a good quality ham or vegetable stock and add a little heat. This can be from smoked paprika, mustard powder or even a little horseradish. Indian spices like cumin and turmeric work very well with squash and pumpkin. A spicy soup is perfect for sipping from mugs around a roaring bonfire.

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