South Leigh Seasonal Recipes

Eating local or home grown produce is not only fresher, cheaper and more nutritious, it is better for the environment as it hasn’t had to travel far to reach your plate. Root vegetables and winter squash are plentiful at this time of the year and can be used in any number of tasty ways. Here are a couple of recipes using butternut squash in a delicious savoury pie and soft and sweet breakfast muffins. E.L.

Winter vegetables

Butternut, Chestnut and Beetroot pie - Serves 6

500g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
200g beetroot, peeled and cubed
1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 x 400g can of chickpeas in water
180g packet of pre-cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
60g cavolo nero or curly kale, stalks removed and leaves shredded
500g block of puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten

Heat the oven to 220°C / Fan 200°C / Gas 7. Place the butternut squash at one end of a large roasting pan and the beetroot, onion and whole, unpeeled, garlic cloves at the other end. Drizzle with olive oil, season well and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.

While the vegetables are roasting, tip the chickpeas, together with their water, into a saucepan. Add the chestnuts, spices and seasoning. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently until the liquid has reduced by half. Mix the chickpeas into the roasted vegetables, squeezing the softened garlic out of its skin. Stir through the cavolo nero or kale and set aside.

Place the pastry onto a floured surface and set aside one third of the block. Roll out the large piece of pastry and use to line a buttered 22cm spring-sided cake tin. Trim around the top of the tin. Fill the pie with the prepared filling, tucking any excess pastry over the top of the filling. Brush this overlap with a little beaten egg. Roll out the reserved pastry and cut a 20cm round to make a lid for the pie. Place this over the filling and crimp the edges with a fork. Brush with beaten egg and make a couple of small slits in the lid.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp, then lower the oven temperature to 160°C / Fan 140°C / Gas 3 for a further 20 minutes to allow the filling to become piping hot. Remove the pie from the tin and serve with a crisp green salad.

Spiced Butternut Muffins with a Coffee Butter Glaze - Makes 6 large muffins

60g butter
300g cooked butternut squash, mashed or puréed
2 eggs
140g runny honey
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
230g plain flour
1 rounded tsp baking soda
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp each ground cardamom, ground ginger and ground allspice
a generous pinch of salt

For the glaze:

60g icing sugar
10g butter, melted
1 tbsp strong coffee

Preheat the oven to 190°C / Fan 170°C / Gas 5. Prepare a muffin pan with baking parchment liners.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well as the butter begins to bubble, then foam. Continue whisking and scraping the bottom of the pan as the butter begins to brown. As soon as the butter has turned a golden amber colour and gives off a nutty aroma, transfer the butter to a medium bowl to prevent it over- cooking. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the finely mashed, or puréed butternut squash, eggs, honey, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk together until smooth. Mix in the cooled brown butter, together with any sediment.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Tip the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix quickly, until just combined. Do not over mix! Divide the batter between the muffin cases, they should be approx. three quarters full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and springy to the touch. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the glaze.

To prepare the glaze, mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. When it is smooth and runny, drizzle a teaspoon or so of the glaze over each warm muffin. Set aside to cool completely - or eat immediately!