As we hold on to the last of summer it seems an easy time to pin down friends for a meal and it is often these impromptu events that give the most joy. Throughout the year I make small batches of preserves – preserved lemons when the tree is in full bloom in July, harissa when I want a fiery kick, kraut and kimchi and the pickled eggplants featured here. Often I gift a jar, and sometimes, too, receive something in return. Our art director, Fiona Lascelles, makes a fine quince paste from her tree, while a frozen container of my friend Paul’s stewed rhubarb from his prolific patch was quickly devoured over ice cream, put into smoothies as well as over the breakfast cereal. It’s amazing how such simple gifts give so much delight.
One of the best things I ate last year was a deceptively simple ceviche of pumpkin from Gatherings chef Alex Davies at a dinner at Orphans Kitchen. Because the pumpkin was so sweet, he chose to serve it raw with a simple lime dressing and some chestnut cream. It was a dish I kept thinking about again and again and once the first pumpkins of summer came around I began making the grilled version featured here. I used a butternut as it tends to be a bit wetter and won’t fall apart, but use what you prefer.
Sometimes, too, it is the thrown-together dishes, using up bits and pieces in the fridge, that bring simple pleasure. Some leftover vinegary chimichurri and a few uncooked beef sausages, broken up and fried and then tossed with just-cooked pasta, made for a fantastically moreish, if unorthodox pasta dish.