Pumpkins and squashes are part of the cucurbita (gourd family) which also includes courgettes and marrows. Introduced to us in the 15th century, winter squashes are picked once their skins have hardened and their flesh is denser and sweeter. They’re amazing keepers. In a cool space a winter squash will keep until the following spring if you’re lucky. There are so many varieties, so experiment until you find your favourite. Some will be sweeter, others more solid in texture. Stuff or roast them, turn them into soup, purées or the best pasta filling. This dessert is everywhere in Turkey in the autumn and it’s pretty fabulous. Turks’ Turban would be appropriate; I use acorn or onion squash.
I’ve added some warm spices; leave them out if you prefer a ‘pure’ version.
- Cut a 1.5kg pumpkin into wedges about 5cm, remove the seeds and pulp.
- Peel and cut widthways into slices about 1cm thick.
- Place the slices in a large frying pan (with a lid), sprinkle with 450g sugar and leave to stand for 4 hours or overnight.
- The sugar will draw out the liquid in the pumpkin.
- Heat your oven to 370°C.
- Place the pumpkin in one layer in an ovenproof dish with a small cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and a grating of nutmeg.
- Cook for about 40 minutes until tender, checking and moving the pieces around to allow them to cook evenly.
- If you like, put the dish under a grill to caramelise. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Sprinkle with 100g walnuts.
I think it’s best served with crème fraiche to cut through the sweetness.