I love the seasons. The way everything changes. How the dry parched yellow grass can transform almost overnight into a lush green field. How the leaves fall and leave the bare trees to face the winter alone. We have 2 mulberry trees and a fig tree in our garden (we also have a guava tree but that is rather sad looking!) and throughout the summer they were heavy with fruit. My boys had stained red fingers and faces and would try to look innocent when I asked them what they had been doing 😉 The fig tree gave us so many figs; which lead to some amazing new recipes, not least the blue cheese and fig pizza....DELISH! But now in the middle of winter the trees stand bare and they are a magnificent yet simple sight. Before long the leaves will return and the boys can once again hide inside, taking 'the rocketship' tree on new adventures. Spring will be here and then before we know it, summer will be upon us and our gardens will look a little barren, until the Autumn rains. I love it, the natural flow. Nature is truly amazing!
All this means I embrace winter. Oh I still moan that it is cold, I try my hardest to stay in bed 10 minutes more because my feet are toasty warm. But I do love the blustery days, the scarf and sunglasses days, when you can put your sunnies on, your scarf on, pull a hat down over your ears and wear thick socks inside your boots. Then there's big snuggly blankets on the sofa and the fire crackling. And winter food 🙂 warming comforting winter food. The oven comes out of hibernation (I try my hardest to avoid using the oven in summer) and roasts, stews, bakes, and soups come into their own.
This afternoon a friend posted on facebook that her online shopping delivery had sent her 800g of feta instead of the 500g of ricotta she had requested. "What shall I do with all this feta?" Well I was in my element. Sprinkle crumbled feta over roasted chunks of pumpkin or sweet potato was my second suggestion. That was it! I had the roasted pumpkin craving. So I put the chicken mince in the freezer, rubbed Sung Choi Bao off our menu board (will move it to next week) and we had roasted pumpkin for dinner. This recipe for roasted pumpkin is great. It is straight forward, stick it in the oven, warm your belly perfection. If you also think about the fact that the left overs can be used tomorrow to make an amazing butternut pumpkin soup, then this side is an absolute winner. AND with this recipe you don't have to peel the pumpkin! Which is an added bonus in my book.
I love the left overs in soup so much that I deliberately roast too much, just so my tupperware is completely full ready for tomorrows soup (pop back in tomorrow to see my pumpkin soup with a twist) UPDATE * Soup is now online*
There is something amazing that happens when you roast vegetables. The natural sugars caramelise and you get something that is more warming, more comforting and more yummy.
I used butternut pumpkin tonight (or butternut squash for my relatives and English friends) but this will work with the grey and kent varieties too. It is also delicious with the wonderfully small button squashes. I used to add 1 tbsp of maple syrup to this dish, but the added sugar isn't really needed when you use butternut pumpkins. By roasting at a higher temperature you get the crispy burnished pumpkin, without adding the extra sweetness. It is delicious with the maple syrup 😳 but it is just as good without it.
Serves 4 as a side dish (with left overs for soup)
- 2 large butternut pumpkins
- 4 tbsp chilli oil (Or 4 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of chilli flakes)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan forced/Gas Mark 6.
- Don't worry about peeling the pumpkin. Just cut it in half, discard the seeds and then chop into large chunks.
- Cover two roasting tins with baking paper.
- Spread the pumpkin out in a single later.
- Drizzle over the chilli oil and then scatter with the salt, pepper and thyme.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes until golden and slightly crispy. Most recipes suggest turning the squash. But I like the contrasting textures of the caramelised bottom, soft centre and crunchy top.
Serve sprinkled with feta or as a side dish for grilled chicken/lamb/pork etc.
Or do as the Italians do and mush it down onto a piece of crusty bread, add a shaving of parmesan and you have a great appetizer.