It’s nearly Halloween, a time when you will see a lot of pumpkins and squash in the shops. We deserve a good meal with this tasty vegetable and a bit of a party.

Pumpkins are very versatile and this first recipe makes for a very good mid-week meal that is easy to prepare any time of the year. O’Neills in Wexford do lovely dry-cured bacon lardons.

I put penne in this recipe but you can use another pasta if you prefer.

Sausages with colcannon is ideal feel good comfort food and very tasty into the bargain.

In recent years in Ireland there are so many good pork sausages being made. You will find a huge variety to try out on the supermarket shelves.

I serve this with mash and always make extra mash and put it in the fridge to use later in the week. The alcohol is probably gone from the gravy but for children or people who prefer not to drink just leave the stout out.

Happy cooking,



Penne with pumpkin, crispy bacon, sage and Parmesan

Penne with pumpkin, crispy bacon, sage and Parmesan. \ Photography: Claire Nash. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

Serves four to six

4 tbsp olive oil

175g (175g) smoked streaky bacon lardons

500g (1¼lb) pumpkin, peeled, seeded and finely diced

15g (½oz) packet fresh sage, finely shredded

500g (1¼lb) penne pasta

50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to garnish

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Heat the oil a large frying pan and fry the bacon for 2-3 minutes until crisp. Add the pumpkin with the sage. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pumpkin is cooked through.
  • 2 Cook the penne according to the packet instructions, then drain and add to the pumpkin with the crispy bacon. Stir in the Parmesan and season to taste, then divide among bowls. Garnish with extra Parmesan and black pepper.
  • Sausages with colcannon

    Serves eight to 10

    1.5kg (3lb) floury potatoes (such as Rooster), peeled and cut into chunks

    8 traditional style jumbo Irish pork sausages

    225g (8oz) kale, finely shredded

    2 scallions, very finely chopped

    120ml (4fl oz) milk

    75g (3oz) butter

    Stout onion gravy, to serve (optional, see below)

  • 1 Steam the potatoes until tender.
  • 2 Cook the sausages in a frying pan in a little oil or under the grill.
  • 3 Place a knob of the butter and a tablespoon of water in a pan over a high heat.
  • 4 Add the kale and scallions with a pinch of salt. Cover, shake vigorously and cook for 1½ minutes. Shake again and cook for another 1½ minutes, until the cabbage or kale is tender but still crisp.
  • 5 Heat the milk in a small pan or in the microwave. Mash the potatoes and then beat in the butter with enough of the milk to make a smooth, creamy mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the sausages and some gravy, if liked.
  • Stout onion gravy

    Saute thinly sliced onions in butter and season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with a little sugar to caramelise. Stir in a spoonful of flour and then pour in enough Guinness or beef stock from a cube to make a thick smooth gravy.