Saturday, 1 November 2008


It's that time of year when the air is crisp, foliage turns gently to autumnal shades of rich and earthy burnt sienna, before falling to be crunched beneath our feet. Suddenly we can see our breath in the cold and markets build seasonal displays of sweet golden honey, luscious red apples and cheery orange pumpkins.

Much like brussel sprouts, pumpkins seem only to appear in kitchens once a year - and more often than not for the sole purpose of creating ghoulish lanterns for Halloween mischievousness. But what to do with the discarded flesh? Soup or the proverbial pie spring to mind but this majestic fruit can be more versatile than that.

When selecting a pumpkin look for a rich, orange colour and firm flesh. A whole pumpkin will keep for a couple of months in a cool dry place, but because of its big size it is often sold in more manageable wedges. In this case store in the fridge and use within a couple of days.

Don't discard the seeds - they make a great snack when roasted and salted and also add a crunchy texture to salads, granola and baking. When cooked, pumpkin flesh has a soft creamy texture and sweet flavour which works well with warming spices like ginger and cinnamon - perfect for those cold autumn and winter evenings. It can be pureed into soups, breads and sweet pies flavoured with spices which are to American Thanksgiving what plum pudding is to British Christmas.

For something a bit different try adding chunks to meaty stews and curries. Add it to risotto or puree and use as a ravioli filling, or as an alternative to mashed potatoes crushed with butter, garlic and rosemary.

Perhaps the best way to highlight pumpkin's natural character is to roast it. Cut into large chunks, put into a baking tray, toss with olive oil and place in a 200 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Serve on it's own or with cous cous and a drizzle of harrisa. Or for a quirky dessert, serve roasted pumpkin with citris fruits and coconut or mayple syrup and toasted nuts.


seeds from your pumpkin
a good slug of olive oil
Maldon sea salt
spices of your choice - I used dried chilli flakes, cumin, cayenne and garlic pepper

Remove the pith and gunk from the seeds, wash and dry them. At this point you may feel you are losing the will to live but persevere - the rest is dead easy.

Put the seeds into a bowl, add the olive oil, salt, pepper and spices and mix together well so that all the seeds are evenly coated.

Spread the seeds out on a foil lined baking tray in a single layer.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees and bake for around 20 minutes until plump and golden brown.

Allow to cool and serve.

1 comment:

Sophie said...

Just a quick comment to say I love your pumpkin carving. Very imaginative use of its natural attributes :-)

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