The Yum Factor
It’s the season of pumpkin and butternut squash. And as we have tons of rosemary in the garden and scores of lemons just turning ripe, what better than to bring them all together in a fragrant and satisfying dish of pasta? Thanks to Sophie Grigson’ s 100 Vegetarian Feasts for the recipe:
Pasta al zucotto con rosmarino – made using the freshest of herbs and a lemon just picked from the tree, organic and full of essential oils.
Pasta al zucotto con rosmarino for two
200g pasta shapes
50g butter and a dash of olive oil
300g pumpkin, peeled and deseeded
A handful of rosemary sprigs
Grated zest of a lemon
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1. Put a large pan of water on to boil, adding salt as the water heats up
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add a dash of olive oil
3. Cut the pumpkin into bite-size pieces and add to the pan, stirring
4. Snip over a generous scattering of rosemary using kitchen scissors; add the grated lemon zest, a dash of grated nutmeg, salt and black pepper, and stir to mix well
5. As the water reaches boiling point, add the pasta, bring rapidly back to the boil and cook for the recommended amount of time (about 8 minutes for farfalle)
6.Add a touch of water to the sauce, cover the pan and leave to cook gently
7.Check the sauce is ready, and adjust the seasoning to taste. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce, stirring to mix all ingredients well
8. Add an extra scattering of rosemary and a twist of grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
Among the top by-products of the Jasmine Garden has been marmalade. Amazing: Until 2016 I had never made marmalade or jam in my life. I gave it a try because our kumquat tree began producing kilos of fruit and I couldn’t think what else to do with it.
Here’s my basic recipe for Kumquat marmalade with lemon. You can scale up, or down, according to the amount of fruit you have:
Approx. 2 to 2.5 litres water
1.Wash all the fruit carefully, and dry with clean tea towels.
2.Prepare the lemon(s), as they need a longer cooking time than the kumquats.
a) Cut each lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Reserve the pips in a bowl. Cut the lemon halves in half again (to give quarters), extract all the flesh and add it to the pips in the bowl. Leave the pith in place, attached to the peel.
b) Cut each quarter of peel + pith into thin strips and chop the strips into smaller pieces.
3.Place the pieces of lemon peel in a heavy steel preserve pan. Add the strained juice and then about 500 ml water.
4.Place the lemon pips and flesh onto a small piece of muslin, form the muslin into a little bag and tie it with cotton thread to form a secure container for flesh and pips.
5.Add the bag to the lemon peel, juice and water in the pan, bring to the boil and cook for about 30 minutes.
6.(Note that after 30 mins. the lemon peel has softened). Add the washed kumquats to the pan without cutting them in any way, along with the rest of the water (up to a total of about 2 or 2.5 litres).
7.Bring to the boil and cook for one hour.
8.Once the fruit is soft, extract the muslin bag and discard.
9.Extract the kumquats and proceed to slice each one open to take out and discard any pips. This requires care, as the pips are small and fine. Make sure each kumquat is cut into at least two pieces (or more) in order to have a finer marmalade.
10.Meanwhile, you may choose to reduce the liquid in the pan in order to have a more fruity marmalade – but this is not essential, in my experience.
11.When all pips have been taken out, return the kumquats, now cut up a little, along with the soft pieces of lemon peel to the liquid.
12.Add the sugar and stir well.
13.Bring to the boil and fast boil for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Take care to skim off all the scum that rises to the top of the liquid/fruit mixture.
14.While the mixture is boiling, prepare the glass jars you will need by ensuring they are clean and then heating them in the oven.
15.Once the marmalade setting point has been reached, remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any further scum that has formed.
16.Allow the mixture to cool somewhat; a slight skin should form on top of the liquid.
When bottling the marmalade, ensure that the jars are not too hot – they should be warm to the touch.
19.Close and label your jars of marmalade. Allow to cool completely – and enjoy!