autumn roast of squash, carrots and onions

september is possibly the best month of the year for food, with the exception of may. it's those months on the cusp, the ones that span two different seasons and so get the best of both, that seem to get me really excited about food.

it's the tail end of summer - the markets are still full of tomatoes and aubergines, and there are raspberries and strawberries around. but there are also squashes and first pumpkins, wild mushrooms and game - all of them precursors of colder autumn days.

it made me think about food, this bounty of september. no sooner had i nailed my colours to the mast than i started to have second thoughts about the whole thing. not about the food itself - though it amazes me i am still eating like this a year later - but about aligning myself with a 'movement'.

the problem is, like all fringe activities, this community - for want of a better word though it's making me cringe as i write it - is full of nutters. we sometimes refer to them as 'the crazy people'.

in my experience, the crazy people fall into two categories: the militant primals and the fluffy food allergy/nutritionist brigade.

the first are the people who talk about potatoes or bread as if it's arsenic. pictures of their food on blogs (for every crazy person shall have a blog!), look kind of...brown. or sparse. it's not the sort of thing that would make you salivate. but they're so convinced they've found the holy grail that it never crosses their mind to entertain the possibility that they might actually be wrong, wholly or partially. i find it hugely ironic that they fall into the exact same trap as the one for which they lambast the low-fat proponents. it's pretty obvious that our understanding of what's good for us moves on as science develops so who knows where we will be in 50 years time. this seems to make more sense than anything else at the moment but i think it would be preposterous to presume (sweet jesus, that's too much alliteration) that we've cracked it.

the second are the allergy/nutrition people. usually women, usually into homeopathy and usually not primal but just low-carb and/or gluten-free. they come up with some good recipes but by and large their understanding of science is on a par with my grandmothers. actually, i might be doing my grandmother a disservice by saying that, especially because i really liked michael pollan's rule in in defense of food of not eating anything your grandmother wouldn't recognise as food.

the thing is, food is about more than fuel. it's about pleasure and it's about socialising. although intricately bound with cultural and social norms, it's by and large not about rigid rules and about denial. life is just too short for that, and prolonging it by a little bit by never touching a banana or a piece of bread just doesn't make sense to me in the great cost benefit analysis of life. look at our froggy friends across the channel - my recent day trips to paris and brussels have served to remind me just how different their attitude to food is. there is pleasure oozing out of every patisserie and every greengrocer, and there is wine, and cream, and chocolate all over the place.

don't get me wrong - i am not advocating that anyone should go out and stuff themselves full of cake. but relax a little, and enjoy the seasons. you could get run over by a bus tomorrow.

so to celebrate autumn, here is a recipe for a nice seasonal bake. hardly a dish, really - more of an idea. i do think that roasting onions and carrots creates magic, and the addition of thyme, cumin and chilli just lifts it from being plain. it's the kind of food where the quality of ingredients does matter so buy the best you can find.

we ate it with some lamb chops fried in sumac (i'm officially addicted to the stuff), beetroot leaves wilted in the leftover lamb fat, and some baba ghanoush from yesterday.


1 yellow squash - or any other variety, cut into chunks, seeds removed
5-6 thin carrots, scrubbed
5-6 onions, halved
6-7 sprigs of thyme
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 whole dried red chillies (or less if you prefer)
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

set the oven to 180C. put all the veggies in a roasting tray, sprinkle the olive oil and then rub it all in with your hands, trying to coat everything with a thin layer. season, then sprinkle the thyme (take the leaves off the sprigs if they are hard) and the cumin, crumble the whole chillies and season. you could add some chopped garlic if you want - i didn't as the baba ghanoush was very garlicky.

roast for 45 minutes or longer, until everything is cooked through, soft, and starting to caramelise.


  1. Yo - your blog is better than Julie Powell's blog and they made hers into a major motion picture. It's a bloody disgrace. If they make N1 Kitchen into a film, who would you want to play you. I know if Hollywood rock up and decide that Barry Newsdesk would be a great film, I'll insist that I play myself.

  2. me! surely i should play myself. not sure who's play parkie though. rafa nadal?
    not seen julie&julie yet though think i will. reckon it will just make me hungry.

  3. This is a fantastic post - eating well, enjoying it and recognising that life is more important than being obsessed. Loved every word, especially the alliteration!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts