Not because I disapprove of the mini ghouls and ghosts, but because the cupboards of a dieter who severely limits sugars and fats are likely to receive tricks. Rice cake anyone?
After carving pumpkins last weekend, sweet root vegetables has been a running theme in my cooking lately, providing natural sugars and a filling accompaniment to many foods.
I began the week with roasted butternut squash, tumbled across a bed of wilted spinach and topped with a zingy, marinated fillet of poached salmon. A first time combination, but so good, I had it two nights running.
-For two portions start by mixing the marinade for your salmon fillets. In a shallow bowl mix 5 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp crushed ginger and 2 tbsp white wine vinegar. Place both fillets in the bowl and turn them over in the marinade several times before covering with clingfilm and placing in the fridge.
-Chop the butternut squash into cubes (don't bother removing the skin, the job already requires a bit of elbow grease and the skin will soften beautifully as it roasts in the oven.) Place the squash on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and honey, give it a generous grind of black pepper, a pinch of sea salt and sprinkle over a handful of chopped, fresh rosemary. Place the tray in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes or until golden and soft.
-Ten minutes before the squash is ready, take your salmon from the fridge, place each fillet on a large square of tin foil, fold up the edges and pour over the remaining marinade equally. Close the foil parcels leaving space above the salmon so it can steam in the oven. Place above the squash and allow to cook for ten minutes.
-Whilst the oven finishes off the work on the fish and squash, you can quickly wilt your spinach. An easy method for this is to place a large amount of fresh spinach leaves in a steamer and leave for several minutes. Keep an eye on the steamer though as you don't want your spinach to overcook and lose it's flavour.
- Once everything is ready you can assemble your colourful dish. Make sure not to waste any of the delicious tangy marinade, as it makes a lovely, light dressing for your roast butternut squash.
This dish has quickly become a firm favourite as it doesn't involve that much work and within an hour, you can sit down with your lucky dinner guest and a glass of pinot.
A few days and pumpkin lattes later, a bag of sweet potatoes made their way home with me and featured in two different dishes, one fit for a gluten, dairy free meat eater and one for yours truly (too many dietary requirements to list.)
In exchange for a bottle of white...after all it is holiday (and essay) season, I whipped up a spicy chorizo and roast sweet potato risotto, laden with sweet paprika and mild chilli powder for extra heat. Lovingly cooked al dente, with the addition of vegetable stock and the occasional slosh of white wine, it was smiles all round, both tiddly and satisfied.
For myself, I added the cubed and roasted sweet potato with paprika to a simple, but tasty ratatouille and happily settled down with the pumpkin lanterns to enjoy our dinner.
Tomorrow night is likely to be a lot less sophisticated and filled with an abundance of scarier sights than my week of special suppers! Thankfully there are still some sweet potatoes I could whip into a comforting Autumn soup on Sunday to sooth a delicate head. Dairy free of course, this Catwoman doesn't take kindly to cream.