Autumnal Eats

When Autumn kicks in, I relish the chillier side of life (until the clocks change that is)… sunny afternoons in the park, the incredible slanting light, comfort food and comforting blankets, winter boots, the frosty mulchy smells … and porridge for breakfast! And squashes!

As I mentioned before there are some healthier options for breakfast but nothing beats the first bowl of real porridge in Autumn when the air has taken on a biting chill and the sun is low in the sky. I like mine in many ways, although my absolute top favourite is with cream and muscovado sugar. This is reserved as a treat though so on a regular day I like berries. As a frugal gal I buy these frozen (or even better, pick and freeze fresh during the summer thanks to a blackberry bush in a friends garden) so they are always available. Blueberries are the best, if you add them in the last few minutes of cooking time so they get to the edge of bursting, or raspberries warmed up into a hot squidgy softness. Or any other fruit in fact: dried fruit added near the beginning such as a couple of chopped prunes or raisins that will plump up and add a lovely bite, mashed bananas give the whole thing a gorgeous sweetness, apple puree swirled into the top, sliced figs, stewed plums, the possibilities are delicious.

I use 1 cup of oats to 2 cups of liquid (milk or water is your preference) heat slowly until your porridge has a creamy consistency

Read this excellent article on ‘perfect’ porridge. There are so many options out there…

Of course, to make it that extra little bit special.. add the cream and muscovado anyway…

The other treat, is squashes. Mainly because it’s great to say but also because of the wondrous butternut.

They are such a brilliant staple at this time of year. One butternut squash can be used for multiple meals throughout the week; half roasted and eaten as a side dish, the other half pureed and added to risotto… This week we had 1/2 in a soup and half in my latest invention, a lasagne. We are eating a lot of vegetarian food at the moment and in Autumn it feels easier than ever to make a meal feel meaty because of the glorious squash..squash squash squash squash

Butternut Squash Lasagne

I use a 30cm x 25cm lasagna tray for this so yours may be taller or flatter depending on the size of your dish. I never normally weigh or measure lasagne ingredients, it’s a great one to just ‘chuck everything in’.  Below is an exact recipe, here is my very rough version: I always use 2 tins of tomatoes for the red sauce and a pint of milk for the white!

12 sheets of dry lasagne

1/2 large butternut squash

500g spinach

fresh nutmeg

Tomato Sauce

2 onions chopped finely

olive oil

3 large flat mushrooms or 2 courgettes diced

4 cloves of garlic chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

pinch of brown sugar

pinch of powdered mustard

salt and pepper

White Sauce

35g plain flour

40g butter

1 pint of milk

1/4 tsp mustard powder or 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard

4 tbsp grated parmesan…

and another 4sbp for the top

salt and pepper

Serves 6

Preheat the oven to gas 4/180 degrees

First peel and chop your butternut squash into 1cm cubes. Drizzle with olive oil , season lightly, toss to coat and place in the oven for 30 minutes, turn every so often until evenly cooked.

Wash your spinach and put in a pan over a low heat until wilted. Drain off any excess liquid grate in lots of nutmeg and roughly chop.

Now make the tomato sauce:

Heat a generous splash of olive oil in your largest pan. add onions and cook with the lid on on a low heat until soft.

Add the courgettes/mushrooms and colour lightly

Add the garlic and stir to release it’s fragrance, add both tins of chopped tomatoes, the sugar and mustard.

Leave this to cook and reduce while you make the white sauce:

Heat butter in a pan, when melted and foaming add the flour and sitr until you have formed a roux (a butter and flour paste) stir the paste on a very low heat for 1 minute (this makes sure the flour is cooked and you don’t end up witha  floury tasting sauce)

Slowly incorporate the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. If you get lumps don’t worry, just get a whisk and whisk like mad. (For classic sauce tips look to the woman who knows) the sauce will slowly thicken, keep the heat low and when it coats the back of a spoon turn the heat off season and add the mustard and cheese.

By this time your squash should be cooked and your tomato sauce should have reduced.

Spoon a little sauce onto the bottom of the pan (this stops the pasta from sticking

Put 3 sheets of  lasagne on top in an even layer, then a 1/2 of the tomato sauce, then 3 more sheets of pasta. Now add the spinach in a layer and the butternut squash on top of that, 3 more sheets of pasta on top then the remaining tomato sauce, now the final 3 sheets of pasta. Top this with the white sauce then sprinkle over the parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 35-50 minutes until the top is brown and bubbling.
You could serve this with a truly autumnal coleslaw made with red cabbage and apples or some sauteed pointed green cabbage….

8 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Fruit, Recipes, Supper, vegetables

8 responses to “Autumnal Eats

  1. Fall is my favorite time of year too! I love, love, LOVE it. I wish it were fall all year round. Your description of the air, the light, the food hit the nail on the head. Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast. Yours looks like creamy goodness. And I like the word squashes too. I didn’t realize there was so much to do with them! I’ll have to try the puree added to risotto!

    • Thanks so much Jennifer! Enjoyed your blog very much… have you made anything with your persimmons yet?

      • The ones I picked off the tree are hard as rocks—still! I thought I’d let the other ones ripen on the tree. (Don’t know if that’s such a good idea. They might not be there if I leave them, right?) Oh, just checked. One of the ones we picked is almost soft enough to eat! But just one.

  2. juliet Harvey

    Neat cryptic clue -answer is- porridge-

    Time for breakfast?

  3. Nick

    Anna this looks delicious, I am definitely doing it sooner.

    great blog, you are going to do well.

  4. Nick

    Anna,
    I made this tonight but went off piste a bit, find it hard to follow recipes to the letter. I added Aubergine omitted the nutmeg, although I love it my Anna is alergic to nuts ( not sure it is a nut technically but not taking the risk) also forgot sugar and mustard. Anyway it went down a treat and the bint ate it even though she doesn’t like aubergine.
    Well done for the inspiration Anna, keep them coming. Going to do the minestrone next.

    NC X

  5. Anna!
    I wanted to tell you I tried the persimmons! Well, I dared my husband to bite first (real Adam and Eve here) and he crunched into it like an apple. Then he wouldn’t stop biting, which made me want a try. They are so good (and so small) I eat two at a time. I know I could have made the pudding with them, but they were so yummy, I’m preferring to just eat them for dessert like an apple. You know what they taste like? An avocado smoothie! They take forever to ripen, but when they do….! I HATE that those darn racoons got most of them. Next time, I’ll put up more of a fight. They knew what they were doing! Smart little suckers.

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