Halloween is just around the corner and our local supermarkets have great piles of pumpkins on display, so it’s becoming very real.
It hardly seems any time at all since the start of the summer, but here we are again.
Every year I carve around five or six pumpkin lanterns and I’m amazed at the amount of pumpkin innards left over at the end.
It always seems a shame to throw the pumpkin flesh and seeds away, no matter how sticky and slimy, but I never get myself organised to do anything about cooking it.
Maybe this year will be different?
Although the flesh scooped out never looks very appetising, I have read that pumpkin can have a surprising range of health benefits.
I thought I might try to find some pumpkin recipes and see if I can plan a meal around what I’m digging out of the pumpkins.
This would probably mean a starter (soup maybe), some kind of main course, and a dessert.
Simple pumpkin soup
Okay, first up is the soup.
The ingredients for most of the pumpkin soup recipes I found include pumpkin flesh (of course), olive oil, onions, vegetable stock and double cream.
Here’s the process the way I’m going to do it.
- Heat the olive oil and cook the onions until they are soft, but don’t let them burn.
- Add the pumpkin and cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally to help blend it in as it softens. Pumpkin is quite fibrous so don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t become a smooth paste, but it should start to brown slightly.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil before simmering for ten minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the pumpkin mixed in.
- Add the double cream and bring back to the boil. At this point you should be able to see the creamy texture of the soup developing.
- Since the pumpkin may still be quite fibrous the soup should be pureed in a blender. Take care if you are using a NutriBullet, like I will, since there have been reports of “explosions” when hot liquids are blended in the machine.
- Now you’re all ready to go. Just season to taste and maybe swirl a little left-over cream (you did save some, didn’t you?) onto the surface.
Roast pumpkin main course
Since this meal is going to be eaten on Halloween it’s unlikely anyone will be happy to sit down for very long, with trick-or-treaters coming to the door and our tour of the neighbourhood to harass our neighbours.
This means the main course should be something not to grand or fiddly. For this reason I am going to do a big tray of roast pumpkin – very simple, and everyone can help themselves.
For this recipe use the chunkiest parts of the pumpkin flesh removed when making the lanterns. This will mean scooping further than normal towards the skin of the pumpkin.
Because pumpkin can taste a bit bland I’m going to add some garlic and chilli flakes.
- Chop the pumpkin flesh into chunks and peel and slice as much garlic to season the amount of pumpkin you have.
- Mix the pumpkin chunks and garlic in a bowl with a little olive oil.
- Spread the mix onto a baking tray (use baking parchment if it’s not non-stick) and place in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees celsius.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until pumpkin chunks are golden-brown.
- Remove from oven and transfer pumpkin chunks to a bowl.
- Sprinkle on salt and chilli flakes, and you’re all set with some halloween finger food.
Pumpkin pie dessert
Whenever I think of pumpkin recipes it’s always pumpkin pie that springs to mind. Some of the recipes I’ve found use pureed pumpkin that can be bought in cans. Since I’m trying not to waste the insides of out lantern-pumpkins we don’t want to go down that road.
It seems that the main thing that needs to be done is to ensure the pumpkin used for the pie filling is as smooth as possible, so it needs to be cooked first. I’m going to add some cinnamon to give the pie some more flavour. No extra sugar though, since we’ve looked before at why sugar can be bad.
- Chop the pumpkin, add to a large pan and cover it with water. Bring to the boil then cover the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the the pumpkin becomes soft.
- Prepare sufficient pastry and roll it out in a flan tin before baking for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius.
- Once the pumpkin is soft and tender sieve into a bowl. Add beaten egg, some butter, milk and cinnamon to the pumpkin puree and stir until blended.
- Pour the mix into the pre-baked pastry shell and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.
- Pumpkin pie anyone?
Well, that’s my halloween meal sorted out. I’ll probably have to see how things go with ingredients and timings on the night, but that’s the plan.