In a mellow mood: Skye Gyngell cooks with pumpkin and beetroot

Autumn's vegetable harvest has a gentle flavour, highlighted by the earthy sweetness of pumpkin and beetroot, says Skye Gyngell

I love the early autumn, when the abundant harvest of mellower fruits and vegetables begins to appear. Strong, punchy flavours have all but disappeared, leaving produce that is gentler and more elegant – much of which, such as pumpkin and beetroot, tastes earthy and subtly sweet.

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

Roasted squash, beetroot, mozzarella and basil oil

Surprisingly, the clean, clear flavour of mozzarella works as well with the sweet, mellow flavours of autumn as the strong vibrant flavours of summer such as ripe tomatoes. Gentler olive oils are called for.

Serves 4

8 small beetroots
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion squash (if you can't get hold of this, Crown Prince or butternut squash is fine)
1 dried red chilli
1 small bunch of marjoram
4 balls of buffalo mozzarella
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

For the basil oil

1 large bunch of basil
60ml/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
A good pinch of sea salt

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Wash and pat dry the beetroots, place in a roasting tray, season and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat the beetroots. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes or until the beetroot is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove, allow to cool slightly, then slice in half lengthways. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

Slice the onion squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and cut each half into quarters. Lay in a baking tray. Crumble over the chilli and marjoram, add some salt and olive oil and roast for 30 minutes, until tender. Remove to cool.

For the basil oil, remove the stalks from the basil and place the leaves with the oil and salt in a blender. Blitz until you have a lovely, sludgy, verdant purée.

To assemble, arrange the pumpkin and beetroot on a plate and lay the roughly torn-open balls of mozzarella on top. Spoon over the basil oil and drizzle over the balsamic. Serve immediately.

Slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with pumpkin and sprouting broccoli

When I was a child we often ate lamb accompanied by roasted pumpkin. It is a lovely combination, both warm and sweet. The lamb is slow cooked here until it's almost falling apart – it is the nicest way I know to eat it.

Serves 4-6

1 shoulder of British lamb
6 cloves garlic
1 small bunch marjoram
8 anchovies
3 tbsp good-quality red-wine vinegar (such as Volpaia)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe pumpkin
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 dried red chilli
1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
500g/1lb sprouting broccoli
1 litre/13/4 pints water

Heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Lay the lamb shoulder on a baking tray. Place the garlic, marjoram and anchovies in a pestle and pound with a mortar until you have a rough paste. Add the vinegar and stir to combine.

Rub the wet paste into the lamb, massaging with your fingers. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover with foil and place in the oven to cook for three to four hours, basting occasionally. Uncover for the last half hour.

Next, peel and chop the pumpkin into wedges and place in a bowl. Season with salt, crumble over the chilli and pour over the olive oil. Toss until the pumpkin is coated. Place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for the last 45 minutes of the lamb's cooking time.

Trim the broccoli of any damaged outer leaves (you want to keep as many as possible, though, as they are delicious) and trim the woody ends. Pour the water into a pan and let it come to a rolling boil, drop in the broccoli and cook for two to three minutes. Drain and season.

To serve, the lamb will literally come away with a spoon – it will also have produced a delicious, vinegary, slightly hot, salty sauce. Serve all together, as I have done, or in separate dishes if you prefer.

While in Sri Lanka earlier in the year I ate this warm (rather than hot) curry. I often cook it now alongside grilled fish, but it tastes balanced and perfect without any other accompaniment.

Pumpkin and white-bean curry

Serves 4

1 fresh coconut (or 1 tin coconut milk)
1 onion squash (again, Crown Prince or butternut squash is fine)
1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 inch thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
4-5 sweet little tomatoes
1 dried chilli
10 fresh curry leaves
150g/5oz dried white beans, soaked overnight and cooked according to packet instructions
A little sea salt

I prefer to use fresh coconut; it is a little extra work, but its flavour is far more delicate. If you do it this way, look for small, sweet, young coconuts, not the more typical older, harder ones. Remove the outside husk by holding in your hand, rotating it slowly and tapping it gently on the top with a rolling pin until the outer flesh splits and you can gently remove the flesh with your hands. Cut in half down the middle with a sharp knife, catching the water in a bowl as it escapes. Roughly chop the flesh into chunks and place in a blender with a cup or two of warm water. Blend until smooth and strain it into the bowl in which you have poured the coconut milk.

Next, peel and chop the pumpkin into one-inch wedges. Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a medium-sized pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds and let them pop for a bit. Turn the heat down slightly and add the ginger, turmeric, tomatoes and dried chilli. Add the pumpkin and stir a couple of times to coat. Sprinkle over the curry leaves and pour in the coconut milk. Keeping the heat at medium to low, place a lid on the saucepan and cook gently until the pumpkin is tender. Season with salt. Add the cooked white beans and cook gently for a further 5-10 minutes.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
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

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower