Despite the vague panic at leaving another summer behind, and the feeling I never got quite stuck into it, early autumn is one of my favourite times of year, in fact I think I’ve always loved autumn most. The atmosphere is so tangible, intensely redolent with such rich scent. The precious feeling when the weather is warm, then crisp, cool, damp, and when the sun comes out again everything feels so alive, so determined to make the most of the time before winter. That’s life, in a nutshell. Recently I had some bad news and that’s how I felt, after the tears, switched on, alive, determined to thrive, we live on the edge always, we just rarely see it. Yesterday I could touch it. The moss is so green and soft now, the heather in bloom in the thick autumn haze, the brambles still heavy with fruit…. everywhere mushrooms are sprouting, the perfumed scent of wood-smoke hangs in the chill evening air, the woods are heavy with the beginning of autumn’s mulch. This is life. Everywhere there is struggle, everywhere there is beauty.
Purple sprouting broccoli mirrors the heather flowers…
(I’d be as happy with a bunch of purple-sprouting broccoli as I would a bunch of flowers ♥)
Squash blaze like setting suns, as the day fades and dinner-time arrives…
Stuffed squash is such a wonderful dish. It is its own dish! beautiful to serve and such a pleasure to make. De-seed and roast in the oven, with water in the pan, until soft and caramelising… and then stuff with the cooked kasha (roast buckwheat), or buckwheat, and vegetable mix, and grill until crisping.
If you have buckwheat groats you can roast them yourself, or use them as they are – this will take longer to cook and have less rich nutty flavour but they are still delicious and have more substance than kasha I find. Unroasted buckwheat is better for eating straight away as the grains are more firmly separate, whereas kasha has a tendency to bind until cooled, when it breaks up easily. Kasha is a good ingredient to cook in bulk, it keeps very well, when cooled the grains are fluffy and easily broken up by hand, so it is a good food to cook in advance and keep in the fridge. You can then use it as you would rice. It’s beautiful in salads, and mushroom and garlic fried kasha is a favourite of ours. Buckwheat is such a great food, it’s a highly nutritious and versatile pseudo-grain, that is low GI/ GL, higher in protein than grains and an excellent choice for everyone, whatever your dietary needs. I live on it, as you may have noticed… (note to self, do more quinoa recipes!). I would liken buckwheat to brown rice and kasha to white rice although unlike white rice kasha is highly nutritious.
I served the stuffed squash with salted purple sprouting broccoli rubbed with garlic and in a squeeze of lemon, and also a white onion sauce.
- Squash of choice, enough for 4 portions
- 1 cup kasha (roast buckwheat groats)/ buckwheat
- 1 large carrot
- 4 large mushrooms/ equivalent
- 4 spring onions/ small onion
- 1/2 cup of peas
- 1/4 shredded sweetheart cabbage
- 10 olives, I used kalamata, adjust salt if using a plainer variety
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- handful of broken walnuts, lots of finely broken bits is good
- 2 tbsp oil - mild coconut or other light, healthy oil
- 2 tsp black pepper, to taste
- 3 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 large pinches of salt, to taste
- fresh basil
- cashew cheese
Pre-heat oven to hot, 200 C.
Cut squash in half, de-seed, score and rub in a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil, and roast for 30 mins or so, or until soft and browning. I add water to the bottom of the pan to keep the squash moist, or in an earthenware pot.
Rinse 1 cup of kasha/ buckwheat and cook with 2 1/2 cups of hot water on a low heat for five minutes or so, until water is absorbed, buckwheat for longer, about twenty minutes. Add the peas to cook with the kasha/ buckwheat five minutes before it's ready.
Saute onions and salt with the bay leaf on a low heat with the lid on for five minutes or more, until browning and sweet.
Finely cut or tear mushroom into small pieces and brown. Dice carrots small and add to the onions with the ground coriander and black pepper. Saute for five minutes or so with lid on. Add the shredded cabbage, walnuts, chopped olives and finely chopped or pureed garlic, and saute for a further five minutes or so, stirring frequently.
Remove the bay leaf and mix in the cooked kasha/ buckwheat, breaking up the grains and fluffing.
Adjust seasoning to taste and generously spoon onto the squash halves, pressing down slightly. Top with a drizzle of oil, I used olive.
Grill for 10-15 mins, until browning and crisping.
Scatter fresh crushed basil to serve.
Many squash types have a skin that's delicious to eat, butternut are too tough, but squashes such as the beautiful frilled varieties are delicious in their entirety.
Don't throw away the seeds, give them to the birds!
I’ve been listening to… Miles Davis ‘Autumn Leaves’
I’ve been watching… the BBC adaptation of Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider with Rosie’