Pumpkins have become a symbol of Halloween, but there’s so much more to a pumpkin than turning it into a spooky face. Yes, carving your very own creation can be a lot of fun, especially during a rainy lockdown Halloween half term. But please don’t be one of the many people who just carve a Jack-O’-Lantern and waste all that pumpkin-ey goodness!
Here are a few simple and tasty (savoury and sweet) ways to make the most of your pumpkin this Halloween…
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
You have to scoop them out of your pumpkin before carving, so why waste them? Pumpkin seeds are full of vitamins and fibre, and they make a tasty, addictive and healthy snack. Simply separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, rinse and dry them, then combine with a little olive oil and seasoning before baking at 170-180C for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. A couple of delicious seasonings include sea salt, back pepper, garlic powder, chipotle chilli powder and celery salt, or sea salt, black pepper, paprika and chilli flakes. Be creative and try a few different flavours!
Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Risotto
This is one of our family favourites – a recipe created by my auntie in Italy! A good risotto is a labour of love, but it’s worth it at the end when you can enjoy a creamy, indulgent and hearty winter dish. Once scooped out of your pumpkin, simply dice the pumpkin flesh into 1cm cubes ready for cooking. Finely chop a small onion and fry in olive oil until soft. Then add 700-800g of diced pumpkin (or squash) and add a ladle of vegetable stock at a time until the pumpkin is cooked and soft (about 20-30 minutes). When it is done, wait for all the liquid to absorb and add Arborio risotto rice. Toast the rice in the pan for a couple of minutes but don’t let it stick. Add a splash of white wine, stir and allow the alcohol to evaporate. Then start adding hot vegetable stock a ladle at a time whilst stirring continuously, until the rice is cooked and ‘al dente’. Add salt and pepper to taste, then finally add 150g of strong gorgonzola cut up into small pieces, stirring through until melted. Bon Appetit!
Savoury Pumpkin Pasties
Harry Potter inspired pumpkin pasties were a new recipe we tried this year. My brother Matt made them for a Halloween-themed day in work and they went down a treat. The pumpkin was diced and roasted in the oven with a dash of sunflower oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, ginger and coriander (with a hint of chilli too). Once cooked and soft, it was combined with softened fried onion and stuffed into shortcrust pastry parcels, before being egg-washed and baked until golden. They make a great lunch to take to work and are delicious served hot or cold.
A spicy pumpkin soup makes a hearty and warming lunch or dinner that’s packed with goodness. Chop your pumpkin into chunks (leaving the skin on) ad place in a baking tray skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed garlic cloves, and roast at 180C until soft and lightly browned. Scoop out the cooked pulp and blend into a smooth paste with half a cup of water. Add 3 tbsp of spiced mango chutney, cooked onions (fried until soft and opaque) and a teaspoon of ground cumin. Blend together, then add your pureed pumpkin to a pan with chicken stock and simmer for 30-40 minutes, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Finish with a drizzle of soured cream and a sprinkle of smoked paprika and toasted pumpkin seeds.
If you’ve got a glut of pumpkins that you can’t eat all at once, it’s a good idea to make pumpkin puree which can be frozen for months and used in an array of recipes. Simply peel and dice the pumpkin flesh and cook in boiling water until soft when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain the water and blitz the cooked pumpkin in a blender until smooth. This will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days and can also be frozen. When defrosted, the water might separate from the puree – just mix it together again before using and it’s good to go. This versatile puree can be used in a range of recipes, from Pumpkin Pie to Pumpkin Muffins, and Spiced Pumpkin Latte to Spiced Pumpkin Cake.
A traditional Pumpkin Pie is an indulgent treat that’s popular at this time of year in Canada and America to celebrate Thanksgiving. And it’s surprisingly easy to make. Start by rolling out your shortcrust pastry before lining a pie/tart dish. Prick your pastry with a fork, fill with baking beans and blind bake at 160C for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and bake for a further 10 minutes until your pastry case is lightly golden. To make the filling, mix 140g sugar, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp of nutmeg and 1tsp of cinnamon in a large bowl. Add 2 beaten eggs, 25g of melted butter, 175mls of milk and 700-800g of pumpkin puree to your dry ingredients and combine into a smooth mixture. Pour the filling into your tart case and bake at 180-190C until the filling has set. Allow the pie to cool before dusting with cinnamon and icing sugar to serve.
Spiced Pumpkin Cake
You can’t go wrong with a warm and spicy pumpkin cake on a chilly autumn day. It’s one of my favourite things to enjoy after a bracing walk among the crunchy leaves. Sugar, spice and all things pumpkin are the staple ingredients of this cake, and I follow a great recipe from the fantastic Marmalade Teapot which I recommend you try out too. Check out her Pumpkin Spice Cake here.
Do you have any other favourite ways to use up your pumpkins?
Happy Halloween! Xx