Hot squash: Skye Gyngell's winter vegetable recipes

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

If you think carrots and turnips are where winter veg begins and ends, you're missing out on a colourful treasure trove of seasonal goodies, says Skye Gyngell

At this time of year it is easy to fall into the misconception that there is little around to eat in terms of fruit and vegetables – perhaps you think only of carrots, turnips and parsnips. And it is true that these nutty, sweet root veg are very much around and worth eating. But there is plenty more out there that is uniquely wintery, nourishing and cosy – plump, soft, delicate new season's garlic, slightly bitter Brussels sprouts and their leafy sprout tops, chards, perennial spinach leaves, sprouting broccoli cabbages, pumpkins, artichokes and winter leaves.

And in terms of fruit it is almost my favourite time of the year – there are quince, ruby-red blood oranges and pomegranates. There are still some apples and pears around, and forced winter rhubarb is my favourite type, more delicate, pale and languidly beautiful than its spring/summer counterpart – and when cooked, almost sharp enough to make you squint.

I like to serve most of these fruit and vegetables simply, primarily because their flavours tend to be more delicate than the bold, well-ripened summer fruit and veg – but also because many of their jewel-like colours are a welcome sight to see against the cold, grey January sky.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627

Warm salad of sprouting broccoli, onion squash and chilli and hazelnut sauce

I like salads all year round – I think it is something to do with being brought up in Sydney, where the weather is warmer and eating salad is a way of life. More substantial salads tend to work better at this time of year in this country; very often the taste of food is more profound when served not too hot.

Serves 6

1 onion squash, sliced in half, seeds scooped out, but skin left on (if onion squash is hard to find, substitute butternut squash; the skin will need to be removed, but otherwise treat it in exactly the same way)

1 dried chilli, crumbled
4 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion, outer skin removed and sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of sprouting broccoli, washed, patted dry and sliced into six long slices, which should include the stems and outer leaves

For the dressing

100g/31/2oz whole hazelnuts
2 anchovies
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
120ml/4fl oz extra-virgin olive oil

First make the dressing: preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4, lay the hazelnuts on a tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven for five minutes to tickle out their flavour and colour them slightly. Place the anchovies and mustard into a mortar and pound with a pestle until you have a rough paste. Add the hazelnuts and vinegar and pound once more. Pour in the oil and stir well to combine. Taste and season with a little salt and pepper if needed.

Now turn up the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas6. Lay the slices of squash in a baking tray, crumble over the chilli, pour over two tablespoons of the oil and season with the salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, uncovering for the last 10; the squash should be tender but not falling apart. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the squash is cooking, place the onion rounds in a smaller baking tray and add the balsamic and remaining olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper, cover with foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then, as with the squash, uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes; the onions should be a deep purple in colour and glossy.

Place a large pot of well-salted water on to boil, prepare the broccoli and, when the water is boiling, plunge it in and cook for 2-3 minutes; drain but do not refresh.

Arrange the warm vegetables on a plate, spoon over the dressing and serve.

Rhubarb jam

Jams are easy to make, and give you a great sense of satisfaction as you do so. They make lovely gifts for friends, too – there is something so nice about being given something home-made and it is also a good way to eat some of your favourite fruits when they are no longer in season.

Makes about three small parfait jars

450g/141/2oz rhubarb
450g/141/2oz caster sugar
The rind of one lemon

Wash the rhubarb and remove any stringy bits. Pat dry and weigh the remainder, as it is important to have equal quantities of sugar to fruit when making jams. Slice the fruit into one-inch pieces and place in a preserving pot or heavy-based saucepan and cover with the sugar. Place over a gentle heat, stir continuously to prevent burning and, when the sugar has melted completely, stir in the lemon rind and turn up the heat.

Boil the jam for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat. Sterilise your jars by putting them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then spoon the warm rhubarb into each jar. Seal with lids. Allow the jars to cool in a draft-free space and remember that once the seal has been broken the jam must be stored in the fridge.

Slow-roasted garlic with thyme

Plump, sweet and very gentle, the first of the season's garlic arrives with us in early to mid-February. This is my favourite way to eat it, roasted in the oven with a little wine and chicken stock – or water, if you prefer. It is delicious with young goat's curd and grilled bread doused in olive oil.

Serves 6

6 whole heads of new season's garlic
250ml/8fl oz home-made chicken stock
200ml/8fl oz dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 fresh bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
Approx 240g/8oz goat's curd (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops off the garlic and place upright in a baking tray. Ladle in the chicken stock (or water) and pour over the wine. Season generously and tuck in the bay leaves and thyme. Cover with foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Cook for half an hour then remove the foil to allow the garlic to become golden-brown and the liquid to reduce slightly. Once the garlic is tender, remove from the oven and serve on a slice of good-quality, chewy bread, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Put a little dollop of goat's curd on the side, and spoon the cooking liquid over the garlic. Serve warm but not hot – the flavours will taste better this way.

Quince with verjus, bay leaves and vanilla

Slowly cooked quince are sweet and delicious. Inedible raw, once baked they are similar in taste to a baked pear, only more beautiful in colour.

Serves six

6 quince
350ml/12fl oz verjus or a sweet white wine
170g/6oz caster sugar
2 vanilla pods, split in half lengthwise
3 fresh bay leaves
The whole rind of one unwaxed lemon

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3, then, taking a clean dish cloth, wipe the quince well all over to remove any fluff. Using a sharp knife, slice in quarters lengthwise (it is not necessary to peel and core them). Lay them, skin-side down, in a sturdy baking tray. Pour over the verjus or wine, sprinkle over the sugar and scatter over the vanilla pods, bay leaves and lemon rind.

Cover securely with foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for one hour then remove and turn the quince gently over. Cover again with foil and return to the oven for a further 11/2 hours. By this stage the quince will be a beautiful deep orange colour, sweet and soft.

Serve warm straight from the oven with cream – or allow to cool to room temperature and serve with crème fraîche, which is my personal favourite.

The Forager by Wendy Fogarty

Petersham's food sourcer on the best places to buy winter fruit and vegetables...

Quince: While this has been a bad season for quince, they can be bought via mail order or directly from Clay Barn Orchard, Colchester (tel: 01206 735 405).

Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb: Generally available from mid-January until mid-March from all good greengrocers. Heritage varieties from Brandy Carr Nurseries (tel: 01924 291 511, www.brandycarrnurseries.co.uk). More information on growing and producers can be found at www.rhubarbinfo.com and www.yorkshirerhubarb.co.uk.

Garlic: grown in England can be bought direct from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm (tel: 01983 865 378, www.thegarlicfarm. co.uk). It also sells garlic growing kits, as does the Really Garlicky Farm in Scotland (www.reallygarlicky.com). Generally, garlic is planted in England from late autumn to March and harvested in June.

Evergreen herbs: such as bay leaves and myrtle can be bought from nurseries and Jekkas Herb Farm (www.jekkasherb farm.com), which sells bay ('Laurus nobilis AGM') in 8cm or 11cm pots, as well as six varieties of myrtle.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week