Autumn veg recipes for an exciting packed lunch

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Kale pesto, roast pumpkin, celeriac remoulade, roasted radicchio with olive oil are easy to make and will have you looking forward to lunchtime.

Pumpkins are in season and people are arguing over when it’s OK to start wearing tights (call us crazy, but surely when your legs are cold?). It’s official, then: welcome, season of mists, Puffa jackets, and a new range of delicious veg. Surely, we can’t be the only impulse shoppers to buy a massive bag of kale at the weekend, only to find it at the back of the fridge, forgotten, on Thursday?

Save your on-the-edge kale by making pesto: blanch in boiling water, drain and pat dry. Remove any tough stalks. Blitz with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, a handful of skinned nuts (optional), and a chunk of hard cheese, such as parmesan or mature cheddar. Add more oil as needed, season to taste. We sometimes add anchovies. Refrigerate until needed. Mix through warm, cooked pasta for a speedy lunch. Upgrade a shop-bought sandwich or soup with a dollop – it’s great in minestrone.

Pumpkins tend to end up as soup or filled with tealights but, as with most veg, they benefit from roasting. Cut a small pumpkin into 2-3cm wedges. Lay on a foil-lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, a good grinding of pepper, a pinch of chilli flakes, and any other spices you fancy adding – try fennel, cumin or caraway seeds. Roast at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 until tender and caramelised. Chop into chunks, then mix with a drained tin of chickpeas, adding the roasting juices. To make a dressing, add 1 tbsp tahini, the juice of half a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove and a pinch of sea salt to a small jam jar and shake to combine. Pour over your pumpkin and chickpea salad at lunchtime. A squirt of chilli sauce would also be good.

Our favourite thing to make with celeriac is remoulade. Peel and cut a small celeriac into thin batons – or use a julienne peeler. Combine with around 2 tbsp creme fraiche, the juice of ½ lemon and 2 tsp dijon mustard, season to taste. Spread on a lightly toasted bagel and drape with smoked salmon for a dreamy seasonal sandwich. Leftover remoulade is delicious for lunch or dinner with a hot, buttered baked potato.

Bitter leaves are beautifully wintry but, well, a bit too salady for when it’s nippy out. A roasted radicchio open sandwich is mellower and much more filling. Cut a head of radicchio in half and lay on a small foil-lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, season, then roast at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 until tender. Transfer to a plastic container, shave over some parmesan, then eat at lunch on top of a couple of slices of toast.

Recipes by Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing, authors of The Little Book of Lunch (Square Peg)

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