I am an enthusiastic home cook and a periodic professional cook, but I hold my hands up and admit that I have avoided using pumpkins & squashes, my excuse being that when I was growing up we never saw such things apart from on Halloween, and even that wasn’t a popular holiday/event till I was well into my teens.
Janet MacDonald has penned a volume that demystifies these vegetables and presents a hundred or so recipes that are simple and, for the most part, economic to prepare; that fact alone makes visiting the world of all things squashy worthwhile.
The most common of squashes are courgettes and cucumbers, and they are the most tender and easiest to prepare. It seems that every summer provides a glut of these for every lucky veg garden tiller and every (even-luckier) allotment holder. We slice cucumber for salad. We fry courgettes with a little butter. We toss a fritter or two. And then we are faced with several months of repetitive tedium. This book has a host of alternatives including Cucumber, Mint & Cider Sorbet that works well as a refreshing between-course course or, if sweetened, as a light dessert. Smart and sophisticated and hardly any work at all if one owns an ice-cream maker; and it’s possible to make a granita if one only has a freezer.
Savoury Squash and Cheese Puffs are versatile, using any one of several varieties of these vegetables. These bites are delicious as nibbles with drinks or as a side dish in place of bread. This is a deliciously sneaky way of getting some vegetables into children.
A rather stylish dish is that of Tiny Pumpkins Stuffed with Stilton Cheese. This is posh dinner-party fare and looks cheffy enough to impress even the in-laws. There is nothing too difficult to master in the recipe but the result is more than the sum of its tasty parts. A classy vegetarian main or memorable side dish.
Pumpkins & Squashes – Over 100 Sweet & Savoury Seasonal Recipes is a must-have for any vegetable grower or for those of us who have always been curious about these overlooked newcomers.
Pumpkins & Squashes – Over 100 Sweet & Savoury Seasonal Recipes
Author: Janet MacDonald
Published by: Grub Street
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018