Squash recipes and know-how

Pumpkin soup

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Baked pumpkin soup
Butternut squash and prawn curry>
Sweet pumpkin pie
Spicy roasted squash Stuffed baby squash with rice and cheese

From golden yellows and brilliant oranges to mellow greens, the colours of these curiously shaped members of the cucurbit family (which also includes melons and cucumbers) embody harvest time.

Their role as an interesting ingredient is often overlooked in favour of their decorative charms, but both pumpkins and squash offer flavour, texture and versatility. Fry, boil, bake, steam or grill as the fancy takes you. Beautiful, versatile and tasty, these intriguing vegetables can be the stars of many autumn dishes and deserve to regain their place in the British kitchen.

What to look for
Winter squash are harvested as the temperature drops in autumn. Look for full-grown varieties with consistent colouring and no spots or cuts. If the bottom flexes when pressed, it isn’t fresh.

Which variety?
Curvy butternut squash is the most versatile. Kabocha is a Japanese squash with a strong, sweet taste, fluffy texture and dark green, knobbly skin. Red kuri, known as onion squash because of its shape, is thick-skinned with a mellow, nutty flavour and suitable for stuffing. Oval spaghetti squash has solid, bland flesh that turns into spaghetti-like strands once baked, boiled or steamed and benefits from spicy flavours to pep it up. Pumpkin flesh takes on the flavours of other ingredients, so can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. Choose smaller 1-2kg ones for eating and save the largest for Halloween lanterns. Look out for Acorn, Crown Prince and Crookneck, too.

How to store
Keep winter squash in a dry, cool place for one to two months depending on size and variety. The cooked pulp can be frozen.

To prepare
Roast, purée, boil, mash or add to stews and curries; the skin is edible once roasted. Seeds may be cleaned, spread out on a baking sheet and roasted at 190ºC (170º fan oven) gas mark 5 for 15-20 minutes, then tossed in salt and spices as a snack.

Further flavours
Pumpkins and squashes combine well with almonds, apple, bacon, beef, blue cheese, chestnuts, chicken, chilli, cinnamon, ginger, lamb, nutmeg, rosemary, shellfish and sage.

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