Halloween seems to get bigger every year, which is a lot of fun, especially if you have kids. The spooky displays last for weeks, and I’ve seen pumpkins crafted to look like Donald Trump as well as the usual creepy faces.
It’s disappointing however to find out that more than 5 million pumpkins end up in landfill when the party’s over, according to research by Unilever and a charity called Hubbub. Not only do 70% of people not eat the delicious flesh, but they don’t even dispose of them in food bins. I think that’s a shame as pumpkins are great sources of vitamin A in particular, and rich in antioxidants. It is a very low calorie vegetable which happens to be rich in nutrients, and the attractive colour makes it an appealing ingredient in sweet and savoury options alike. Follow my ideas below if you want to make the most of yours this Halloween.
There are many ways you can make pumpkin soup, but I prefer to roast chunks of the vegetable with garlic and olive oil first. Then, I fry some onions in butter, and blend the whole mix. You can add a chopped red chilli for extra spice or fold in some creme fraiche at the end if you like.
This is pretty much a recipe for carrot cake, but with one bright orange vegetable swapped for another. I mix 300g of brown sugar, 300g of wholemeal flower, mixed spice, bicarbonate soda and a pinch of salt in a bowl, before adding four eggs to half a pack of melted butter, then stirring in some orange juice and zest. Bake the mix altogether in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for about half an hour. Then I combine it all together with 500g of grated pumpkin flesh. To make the frosting, mix a pack of soft cheese with butter, icing sugar and orange zest. Set it aside, and add to the top of the cake once it has cooled. Yum!
Pumpkin and spinach curry
There are a lot of Indian recipes out there using baby pumpkins, but the flesh of a big Halloween-style pumpkin works just the same. I like to fry onions, garlic, ginger and chilli to start with, then add the vegetables and some other spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and ground coriander, with chopped tomatoes to give it moisture. You can experiment with the spices, but pumpkin is far less fatty or calorific than a meat curry. I think the contrast of colours and flavours with spinach makes it a really appealing dish. Some cashews and fresh coriander sprinkled on top to finish and you have a delicious winter warmer on your hands.
There are a lot of flavours which go well with pumpkin. Blue cheese or goat’s cheese, sage and rosemary, and even bacon are all good ingredients to add. I follow a standard risotto recipe until the rice is done then add the pumpkin, which I boil first in small chunks to soften it. Then add other ingredients to your taste, with plenty of parmesan cheese to finish it off.