THE PUMPKINS ARE BACK IN TOWN

When you scoop the flesh out of your halloween pumpkin make sure it is saved. Previous years have seen a huge waste of pumpkin as halloween jack o lanterns are carved and the flesh thrown away. A staggering figure of 18,000 tonnes was estimated to be thrown away last year! A 2015 survey noted that over 50% of respondents would have used the flesh and seeds if they knew how. So below are a couple of recipes from different cultures that show the diversity of the pumpkin.

Pumpkin soup works beautifully with the Thai flavours of coconut, lemon grass, kefir lime leaves, chilli and basil. Sikil P'ak a pumpkin seed dip from Mexico makes a nutritious spicy dip. In the Indian lentil stew the wonderful spices are absorbed by the pumpkin, any leftovers are even better the next day. Bread, in many cultures, is a great way of using up leftovers from lentils to beer to seeds, the pumpkin puree gives the rolls a golden hue.

Thai pumpkin soup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 cloves garlic chopped

4 large shallots chopped

2 red chilli peppers chopped

1 stick lemon grass bruised and cut into 1” pieces

3 kefir lime leaves

1 litre vegetable stock

750g peeled diced pumpkin

350 ml coconut milk

Juice and zest of 1 lime

Salt & pepper

few torn basil leaves

Serves 6

In a medium saucepan gently cook the garlic, shallots and chilli in the coconut oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the diced pumpkin, stock, kefir lime leaves, lemon grass and bring to the boil.

Simmer until the pumpkin is tender and beginning to break up. Stir in the coconut milk, simmer very gently for a minute, remove from the heat and add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide between 6 bowls scattered with torn basil leaves.

Pumpkin seed dip

175g fresh un-hulled pumpkin seeds

2 large tomatoes

2 medium chili (remove the seeds if you prefer a milder dip)

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

2 tablespoons snipped chives

Salt, pepper

Roast the seeds in the oven or toast until the hulls are well browned and they begin to pop.

Grill the chili until blistered.

Place the seeds, chilli & tomatoes in a blender and blend until very smooth. The mixture should have a soft consistency so if necessary add another tomato or some water.

Stir in the coriander and chives, serve at room temperature as a dip or an alternative to butter.

Pumpkin and Lentil Stew

200g green lentils

250g chopped pumpkin

¼ tsp turmeric

110g fresh coconut

1 chili chopped

1 tsp cumin seed

2 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 onion

600ml vegetable stock

Chopped fresh coriander

Serves 4

In a pestle and mortar work the coconut, chili and cumin to a paste.

In a medium sized pan cook the mustard seed in the oil for 30 seconds then add the onions, soften gently for a few minutes then add the turmeric and pumpkin mix well then add the lentils, tip on the stock and cook until barely tender.

Stir in the coconut chili and cumin paste and cook for a further 5 minutes or until soft..

Divide between 4 bowls and top with chopped coriander.

Pumpkin bread rolls

800g pumpkin

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

1 k strong wholemeal spelt flour

1 teaspoon salt

25g fresh yeast

Cook the pumpkin in boiling water, strain, reserving the liquid. Sieve the pumpkin.

Dissolve yeast in 75ml of the warm (not hot) pumpkin cooking liquid.

Mix flour, salt, yeast, sieved pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and enough of the cooking liquid together until you have a soft malleable dough.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes, turn into oiled bowl, cover and leave until double in size.

Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled table, shape into rolls, and pop the rolls on to an oiled baking tray. Leave in a warm place to double in size.

Bake for 20-25 minutes in a preheated hot oven 220C/450F/gas mark 8.

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