This week we are feeling very autumn-y. The weather here in London? Not so much yet. It is sunny and smells like spring. But as we really love autumn, this week we’ve prepared a recipe that will make you feel warm and cozy inside. And it also goes with the lovely weather.

What could we be making that feels both like spring and autumn? Wholemeal pasta with roasted butternut squash! What’s very interesting about this recipe is that this dish is equally enjoyable served both hot or at room temperature. So you can enjoy it on a sunny day too!

When we cook, we always love trying out new types of pasta. Remember our zea penne pasta salad?  What about our zea spaghetti with asparagus?  This week we are trying our new wholemeal spaghetti. It is nutty, cooks in no time and somehow makes us feel healthier. And we’ve paired the butternut squash with our smoked paprika and smoked salt! Yum!

 

Serves 4

1 medium squash, approx. 750g
3 tbsp olive oil
1tsp smoked paprika
smoked salt
a few pinches of cinnamon
a few pinches of grated nutmeg
1 large chilli, finely chopped

320g wholewheat pasta

To serve
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 lime
salt (to taste)

Prehear your oven at 180C

Wash and cut the squash in large, bite-sized pieces. You can peel it if you want, but we prefer not to.

Place the squash in a large baking tray, along with the olive oil, smoked paprika, smoked salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli. Mix everything together so that each piece of squash is nicely coated with olive oil and spices.

Bake at 180C for 40min, stirring the pieces half way through. Squash should be tender and slightly crispy on the edges.

In the meantime boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water for 5-10min, until al dente. Drain and place in a large bowl with 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Stir well and add the cooked squash, chilli. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve with lime wedges and squeeze some lime on top of the pasta before eating.


Have you noticed how colourful everything seems to be in October? Have a look at people’s outfits around you. Come to the market and see how fruits and vegetables turn autumn into a feast of colours. Maybe we are all competing with the seductive colours of the leaves, as they change to various shades of yellow, brown and purple. Go for a walk around the park, look around you for a few minutes and notice the green grass and the myriads of colours of the leaves. Yes, autumn is indeed full of enchanting colours.

And of course, it’s the time of the year for one of our favourite vegetables: butternut squash. With its bright orange colour and warm, comforting taste, it is the ideal ingredient for an autumn dinner.

Last year we made a comforting pumpkin soup. This year we are feeling a bit more adventurous. Both with flavours and colours for that matter. Think of bright orange butternut squash, red chillies, white feta cheese, dark golden chestnut honey and bright green sage. Can you think of anything better? I think the colours of this tart can proudly compete with the autumn leaves, wouldn’t you say?

This recipe is adapted from epicurious and serves 5:

1 sheet of puff pastry (approx. 20x25cm)
400g butternut squash
a few sage leaves
1 medium red chilli
2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp for frying the sage leaves
30g-50g feta cheese
1 tbsp chestnut honey
salt
pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay your puff pastry on top.

Using a sharp knife cut off a few centimetres from the bottom and from the stem end of the squash. Then make one long cut, down the middle from the top to bottom. Scrape out the seeds (you can save them and toast them separately if you want). Slice the butternut squash vertically as fine as you can, so that you have beautiful thin half moons.

Arrange the squash on your puff pastry, gently pressing it down. Overlap the slices, as they will shrink a bit while cooking. Leave a centimetre border. Brush both pastry border and squash slices with the 2tbsp of olive oil. Finely chop half of the chilli and scatter on top of the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30min or until puff pastry is golden and squash is soft and tender.

While your tart is in the oven, slice the rest of your chilli in fine rounds. Using a peeler, create shavings of feta cheese (or crumble it if you can’t be bothered).

In a frying pan heat the remaining 2tbsp of olive oil. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp, but still bright green. Transfer to a paper towel.

When your tart is ready, remove from the oven. Scatter the remaining chilli, feta cheese and fried sage leaves. Drizzle with chestnut honey. See the colours everywhere?

 


Symbols of Greek hospitality, spoon sweets were created to preserve fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers, in excess. The practice of preserving fruits goes all the way to Ancient Greece. Their name comes from the habit to serving them on a small plate, in the quantity of a teaspoon along with a glass of fresh water. The raw material preserves its original shape, colour, flavours, aroma as well as its nutritional properties. This happens by using few simple ingredients: fruits or vegetables (most commonly), sugar, herbs and a touch of lemon. Try them on your toast, porridge, yoghurt, ice cream or with your afternoon coffee. They are perfect pair to cheese; teaspoon desserts can also be the secret ingredient to your baking and a brilliant way to add flavour to your cocktails.

Butternut squash teaspoon dessert with cinnamon and walnuts (1)

This is an easy introduction to teaspoon desserts through a vegetable not that commonly preserved in Greece. This recipe is inspired by the special cuisine of the vibrant community of the Greeks who have origins from (or still live) in Istanbul.

Preparation: 30’ Waiting time: a night Cooking: an hour

Ingredients (for about a kilo of finished product):

1 kilo (net weight) butternut squash cut in cubes (about 4cm each)
250g sugar
2 small cinnamon sticks (you can also add ground nutmeg, if desired)
About 50 g walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped for serving (2)
Cinnamon powder for serving

Method

Place the butternut squash cubes in a large pot, from the night before. Sprinkle the sugar, close the lid and let it sit throughout the night so it can release its juices. The next day, turn on the heat and cook it over low heat; add the cinnamon sticks and cook for approximately an hour until all juices are absorbed and the butternut squash is soft and tender (3).

Check the mix frequently and add more liquid only if there is none left. It is not advised to stir the pot with a utensil as the pieces of squash may be destroyed. If needed, shake the whole pot carefully.

Remove from the heat and let cool down. Serve with walnuts and cinnamon or pour into sterile jars. Store in the refrigerator and use within one year. Enjoy this sunshine!

(1)  Inspired by “Eleni Fili Nioti, The lady of Istanbul”, Gastronomos , December, 2014: p.100. (2)  For more flavour, lightly toast the walnuts/ almonds for a few minutes in a small frying pan until fragrant. (3)  In Greek we would probably describe this mellowed state of the squash as “honeyed”, a term widely used in Greek cooking.


On Halloween we like to dress up, change ourselves. On All Hallows’ Eve, we become different people. Even just for one night. It’s fun and often, cathartic. But what about food? We all have recipes that we trust. Familiar flavours. And very often we stick to them religiously. For us, Halloween is the time of the year when we experiment. We take comfort foods of our past and turn them into something new. With the easiest way possible. Change one ingredient. Think about it. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just think outside the box. Get inspired by the ingredients themselves.

Our inspiration for this year is our limited edition apple oil. Its complex flavour will change completely a comforting squash soup. Olives, apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey, lemon and sage are all crushed together to create it. It is not your ordinary infused oil.

Follow our recipe for the warm squash soup:

For a large pot of soup (feeds 5 or 7 really hungry people)

1.5kg pumpkin (or squash)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion
1 small red onion
1 piece of ginger, the size of your two thumbs together
1 red chilli
1-2 tsp of mixed spices (we used coriander, cumin, turmeric, caraway)
Salt to taste
1-1.5l vegetable stock

Cut the squash in wedges or in half and roast it in the oven, at 200C, drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt, until the flesh is tender, around 40 minutes. Scoop out all the flesh (You can skip this last step if you want).

Peel and roughly chop the onions, ginger, chilli. In a large pot pour some olive oil and gently fry them. Add the spices and stir. Add the squash and stir again so that everything comes together. Pour 1lt of stock and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and let the soup simmer, so that the aromas blend and the squash is completely soft, around 30-45 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot and if needed add more stock, salt, spices.

And now for the metamorphosis.
Serve the soup with Greek yogurt and drizzle our limited edition apple oil. The soup is spicy and sweet, warm and comforting. The yogurt adds the much needed tanginess and freshness. And the apple oil, oh with its sweet aromas of the semi-ripe Koroneiki olives, apples, honey and cinnamon and the nuttiness from the walnuts and sage. You’re in for a treat!


Mandarins are much loved from chefs and bakers around the world, for their wonderful essential oil. Following Greek chef’s Evie Voutsina tip -this time of the year that they are at their best- you can grate their skin, store it in the fridge wrapped in cling film and use it throughout the year in various cakes, sauces, breads etc. This risotto is the perfect first course during winter time; it can also work as a side dish for a simple roast chicken and sautéed spinach or as a main dish with a green salad. Let us know how you found this tangy, fruity, colourful, silky dish.

Serves 4-6 persons

Preparation: 25’ Cooking: 15’ approximately

Ingredients

300 g butternut squash (without the skin)

1 almost ripe quince

1 big red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 glass of white wine

½ cup evoo 22°C

80g almonds toasted and chopped

4 table spoons of black Corinth raisins

skin from½ mandarin (ideally organic) and a bit more for decoration (if desired)

2 table spoons of parsley finely chopped

sea-salt and freshly ground pepper

400g/ 2 tea cups of (risotto) rice Carolina or Arborio

5 ½ cups of boiled water

Cut the squash as well as the quince in small cubes. With a spoon grate the inside of the mandarin skin; cut the skin in strips and reserve them in a small bowl. In a heavy skillet or large pan, heat the olive oil over moderately high heat and sauté the onion a few minutes until softened transparent. Afterwards, put in the rice, the butternut squash and the quince along with the garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes. All the rice grains should be well coated with olive oil and opaque. Season the mix with salt and pepper and add the white wine stirring constantly until it is completely absorbed. Put in the raisins as well as the clementine skin stripes.

At this point, begin pouring in the water, about½ cup at a time, stirring and letting each addition absorb before adding more. As the rice begins to swell and after about half of the water has been added, taste for doneness. The rice should be al dente. Continue adding water as necessary. Depending on the desired texture you may mix it at a slow or quick pace. When it’s almost ready, check the seasoning and as a final touch add the parsley and the almonds. Stir and remove it from the fire. Serve immediately, garnishing each plate with clementine sections.

Tip: You could alternatively roast the butternut squash as well as the quince first -with their skins- and when they’re ready you only need to flesh them out and add them to the risotto. It might seem like an extra step in the cooking process, but actually makes it easier.

* Inspired by Voutsina E. (2009, January), Mandarin: fragrant and noble, Gastronomos, 87.

By Lida Papamatthaiaki