You’d think, wouldn’t you that, for people who’ve grown their own fruit and veg for over 15 years, the thrill of harvesting home grown produce would not quite as shiny as it once was?
But you’d be wrong.
I still get excited every time Pete brings in a bowl of fresh raspberries or tomatoes from the back garden, I make him pose for pictures with many of the fruits and vegetables and I practically skip with delight when I harvest our crop myself. Pulling back the enormous leaves of a courgette or the smaller ones of strawberry plants to reach hidden fruits, gently twisting plums and apples to see if they are ripe enough to come away easily, braving scratches galore to pick juicy blackberries and gooseberries… and then grinning in wonderment at a bounty that is, quite literally, the fruits of our own labour!
When it comes to harvesting the first fruit or vegetable of a variety we’ve not grown before, I have a tendency to sing or squeal (both of which can be mistaken for each other, truth be told).
I mean, just look at this beautiful winter squash. Doesn’t it make you joyous? It has a classic pumpkin shape and colour, but I’m not sure which variety it is… You can see that it’s actually still a little under ripe in the centre – we weren’t sure how to tell when it was ready and it could clearly have done with a little longer on the plant. But there was plenty of ripe orange flesh to enjoy.
With all orange-fleshed winter squashes, I really like the way that roasting concentrates their sweetness. If you can’t find a fat round pumpkin, use butternut squash for this recipe, as it’s very similar in flavour.
I’m also a fan of simple salads with just a handful of ingredients and a simple dressing. The cooler weather we had in early September lead me towards a warm salad featuring giant couscous as the base. Chorizo for it’s wonderful warmth and smokiness and I love wilted baby spinach leaves for colour, texture and taste. The dressing is made using oil flavoured when frying the chorizo.
Chorizo, Pumpkin & Spinach Giant Couscous Salad
- 600 g pumpkin, winter squash or butternut squash (peeled weight)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 150 g giant couscous (dried weight)
- 150 g cooking chorizo , diced
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100 g baby spinach
For the dressing:
- 3 tbsp chorizo oil (see below)
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp molasses (very dark) sugar
- salt (optional)
- pepper (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180 °C (fan).
Peel and cube the pumpkin . Toss in the olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Roast for approximately half an hour, until soft all the way through. Exact time will depend on your pumpkin and how large you cut the pieces.
While the pumpkin is cooking, fry the chorizo in vegetable oil – chorizo doesn’t need oil to fry but we want to create excess chorizo-flavoured oil to use in the salad dressing. Once cooked, set the chorizo aside in a bowl and drain the oil into a separate bowl or jam jar.
While the pumpkin is cooking, cook the giant couscous according to the packet instructions. Once it’s ready, drain and set aside.
Make the salad dressing by combining 3 tablespoons of drained chorizo oil, the same of cider vinegar and a tablespoon of dark sugar. Shake or whisk to combine, taste and adjust balance as you prefer. Add salt and pepper if desired.
Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and while still hot, stir the spinach leaves through, to wilt them.
Combine with the couscous, chorizo and dressing.