William Cullen Bryant famously described autumn as “the year’s last, loveliest smile”. It’s certainly a time of year that makes me feel happy. As much as I enjoy everything summer has to offer, Autumn always feels so much more relaxed and low-maintenance. I can wrap myself up in warm, forgiving woollies. Snuggling on the sofa to watch a Netflix series is far more appealing than a wild Saturday night out among the masses. Then there’s the food. The prospect of Autumn eating fills me with joy. Hearty soups, braises and bakes satisfy body and soul far more than any summer recipe can.
As many of you know, I turned vegetarian earlier this year, so I’ve been looking out for meat-free meals that will still deliver a hefty dose of seasonal cheer. The following selection of squash recipes are tasty, healthy and easy to prepare. Even the husband thinks they’re delicious! I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. They’re perfect for cosy suppers, lunches with friends, or even some informal entertaining.
Tenderstem* broccoli and butternut squash satay curry
Bowl food is soul food. If you’re in need of something rich and restorative, I can’t recommend this curry enough. Fragrant, filling and comforting, it’s the perfect way to warm up on a crisp autumnal day. Squash recipes like this are really low-effort, too. You basically chop, stir and simmer. Finish with a generous squirt of lime juice, garnish with peanuts and coriander, and serve with steamed or boiled rice.
Top tip: Stir every so often while it’s simmering, and add a little more water if needed, to stop everything sticking to the pan.
*Please note: Tenderstem is a registered trademark
Pumpkin (or squash), lentil and turmeric soup
I must confess, I’m a sucker for soup. I’m especially fond of a bowl after an invigorating autumn walk. This squash recipe works well with leftover pumpkin – perfect for Halloween! It also happens to be vegan. Since turning vegetarian I’ve become a big fan of split red lentils. They’re cheap, cook quickly, and are packed full of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. The ginger and chilli add an extra warming kick, but reduce the quantity (or even omit altogether) if you prefer your soup less spicy.
Dr Justine Butler at vegan charity Viva!, who specialise in undercover investigations and high-profile animal campaigns, says: “Squash are a delicious and versatile winter vegetable. They provide an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into the vital nutrient, vitamin A. One small serving of pumpkin (100g) can cover your daily needs for vitamin A and can be used to make soups, curries or desserts.”
Top tip: This simple soup can be jazzed up with a variety of optional toppings, such as (soya) cream, fresh coriander, croutons, parsley and/or pumpkin seeds.
Lizi’s butternut squash salad with granola crunch
A salad? In autumn? I know what you’re thinking – because I thought it too – but this tasty dish is colourful, crunchy (and served warm). Butternut features in so many squash dishes because of its versatility. It works equally well as a savoury or sweet component. I’d never thought of adding granola to salads before, but adding a sprinkle of Lizi’s High Protein Granola boosts both my fibre and protein intake. It helps keep me feeling fuller for longer, too – a bonus if you’re watching your weight pre-Christmas.
Top tip: Don’t peel your butternut squash before you roast it. The skin provides great texture, as well as flavour.
Stuffed roasted butternut squash
If you’re keen to experiment with squash recipes that are suitable for entertaining, look no further than this impressive stuffed roasted butternut squash, courtesy of Maple from Canada. It does need a little more prep, In terms of scooping and stuffing, than some of the other recipe suggestions here. But I promise it’s worth it, because it tastes delicious, and looks amazing!
“Our roasted butternut squash recipe is filled with a mixture of rice, walnuts, cranberries and makes the perfect vegan roast,” notes chef and recipe development officer David Colbourne. “This dish is packed with protein and healthy carbohydrates that make the dish filling, yet nutritious. Butternut is a winter squash – you’ll probably see it year-round in stores – but it’s best eaten in season, throughout the autumn and winter. Buying seasonal produce not only guarantees the best kind of flavours in your meals, but it’s also a sustainable way of eating if you buy your produce locally. We use squash a lot to complement our pure Maple from Canada recipes as the two ingredients complement each other so perfectly.”
Statement squash recipes, like this one by Maple from Canada, are ideal for entertaining and seasonal special occasions
Butternut is certainly a star performer within squash recipes that are stylish enough for entertaining. Featuring just five ingredients – and minimum faffage – this particular example has shot straight to the top of my dinner party favourites. All you really need to do is halve, scoop, score and bake in the oven. Forty minutes later you have a truly delicious dish that looks worthy of far more time and effort than you’ve actually had to spend on it! I’d never thought of cooking with chutney before, but Tracklements has a huge range of recipes where relishes and chutneys play a key role.
Top tip: Serve with a big green salad, or a side of grains. You can also substitute the Apple & Cider Brandy Chutney with Tracklements’ Green Tomato Chutney.
Creamy pumpkin risotto
Risotto is one of my favourite dishes at any time of year. In the spring, I make it with fresh, home-grown asparagus. In the autumn, I look for risotto squash recipes with pumpkin – and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint.
If you’re a fan of umami, you’ll appreciate the inspired combination of nutritional yeast, tamari and shiitake mushrooms. As with most authentic risotto recipes, there’s a lot of stirring involved (but no serious culinary skills required). Serve with lashings of good black pepper, and enjoy!
Mr Organic MD Valerio Simonetti tells me: ‘We love using pumpkin in cooking because it’s so versatile – it has a nutty yet sweet flavour and when roasted in a risotto it soaks up all the juices of the dish, creating the perfect combination of soft centre and crisp outside. It also freezes beautifully; when you’re done carving, cut into chunks and store to enjoy all year long.’
Top tip: If you’re cooking for vegans, make sure you use vegan white wine to deglaze after frying your thyme, shallots and garlic.
Appetite well and truly whetted? Click here to discover more of my favourite vegetarian recipe ideas