When the first winds of Autumn come blowing through, unpicking summer’s leaves and bringing them gently to the ground- it’s time to go and collect windfall. My neighbours have a quince tree, prolific and merry with fruit. Scattered at the foot of the trunk, an abundance of baby quince nestled in the grass after the season’s first strong winds. All dusty, lint skins, and sweet perfume, the quince is the picture perfect ambassador for Autumn’s mists and mellow fruitfulness.
In the garden, the vines have turned to scrunched up paper brown, and the pumkins, hidden all summer, come shining through. The markets will be full of them, big and small, knobbly and smooth, in every delightful colour and pattern you could wish for. They store well, but it’s a pretty glorious time to celebrate them now too.
The flavour of each squash and pumpkin is as varied as their handsome coats. The crown prince, sweet and creamy, the butternut, nutty and firm, the red Kuri like brioche. However, they all share a sweetness that could use some tartness, and the baby quince have just the sort of mellifluous astringent kick I’m after. Match made.
Roasted Pumpkin and Baby Quince
1 medium sized squash
6 baby quinces, quartered lengthwise ways
2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
Glug of olive oil
Skin and slice the pumpkin, no need to be fine. Roughly chop into fairly equal chunks. Drizzle in a good helping olive oil. A good few pinches of sea-salt, black pepper, fennel seeds and the dried chilli flakes.
Quarter the baby quince, and place in a small roasting tray with a cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and sugar. Half a cup of water and cover with foil.
Bake for an hour or until soft.
Serve together with a scattering of herbs of edible flowers.