Seasonal Food - October/November 21
The weather is slowly changing and pumpkins hog the limelight in October. But let’s not forget the rest of the vegetable patch (although strictly speaking pumpkin is a fruit), as well as late-season fruits.
Typically thought of just for Halloween carving, for which of course they are excellent, pumpkin is a tasty and nutritious vegetable that is sometimes overlooked in the UK. It has a fairly neutral taste so while good in savoury dishes such as pumpkin soup or roasted as a side vegetable, it’s also delicious in pumpkin pie or with the addition of pecans in pancakes.
Sweet potatoes are nutritious, high in fibre and an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Although only distantly related to regular potatoes, they are often used in the same way – boiled, baked or as fries. They are a staple in vegetarian cooking, adding colour and flavour.
Kale and cabbage are of the same family and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Both kale and winter cabbages such as cavolo nero (black cabbage) go well with partridge, pheasant, guinea fowl and duck. On its own, kale is delicious sauteed in a little olive oil.
Like an oversized courgette, marrow can be stuffed, roasted, slow-cooked, used in chutneys or grated into cake.
The flavour of a shallot is much milder and sweeter than that of its close relative the onion, meaning if a recipe specifies shallots, substituting onions won’t give the same results. However, if adding onion will overpower a recipe, shallots are ideal. Ideas include adding to gravies and sauces, gently cooking and adding to a warm salad, or serving with fish where the delicate flavour will be a complement.
A powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, pears are delicious, nutritious and versatile. You can eat them just as they are, but they cook beautifully provided you don’t overdo it. For a special meal as either a starter or a dessert, pear, walnut and blue cheese tart is a taste sensation.
Not a particularly well-known fruit, quince are too hard and sour to eat raw. Cooking, however, softens them and brings out the floral aroma they hold deep inside, along with a lovely sweetness that balances out their sour edge. They are very rich in pectin, making them ideal for jams and jellies, while the fruit’s sourness is a great complement to the rich flavours of meat when added to a savoury stew.