Pumpin’

I do love the way pumpkins look- their knobbly shapes and autumnal colour, not to mention all the weird and wonderful artistic reinterpretations you get this time of year.  But if I’m honest, when it comes to flavour I’d rather have a butternut squash.  The brutal truth is that the pumpkin is quite bland.  It hardly tastes of anything at all.  The biggest favour you could do it is to puree and reduce it down to its most concentrated and thus most flavoursome form before sticking it in a pie.  But even then it needs a lot of spice to really shine.
 

Having said that, one pumpkin can go a really long way in terms of feeding the masses, so it gets bonus points on that front.  And there are ways to use it that work really well, either with other ingredients to lift and bring out its sweetness or as a way to add moisture and texture.  And don’t forget that the seeds are edible too and make for a great snack. 

Here are some ideas to make your pumpkin go further.  These three dishes all came from one medium sized pumpkin.

To enhance the flavour:

Roast pumpkin, lemon and sage risotto.

You will need:
To serve 4

300 g pumpkin, cut into wedges, skin on
olive oil
sea salt, pepper
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 lemons, zested and juiced
200g risotto rice- arborio or carnaroli
100 ml white wine or dry vermouth
1 L good quality chicken or vegetable stock
Parmesan
A bunch of sage leaves, torn

Method:

1.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.  Lay the pumpkin wedges on an oven proof tray and drizzle liberally with olive oil.  Scatter with salt an pepper and bake until just tender, about 40 mins.

2.  Chop the onion and mince the garlic.   In a large, heavy-based pan, sweat the onions in some olive oil over a medium heat.  Add the minced garlic, the zest of one lemon, a few torn sage leaves and the rice and mix well.  Fry these for a minute or so, allowing the rice to absorb some of the fragrant oils in the pan.

3.  Add the white wine and vermouth and allow to bubble away.  Once reduced, begin adding the stock, about a fourth at a time.

4.  Cook until the rice is just tender with a bit of bite to it and the liquid has been absorbed and you have a creamy consistency.

5.  Add the chopped pumpkin and lemon juice/zest to taste as well as a good grating of Parmesan. Allow to come together for a minute or two.  Serve in hearty bowls with a grating of cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and some more sage. 

To add umph to a cake- This recipe is adapted from this one I found on the BBC Good Food website.  I had some leftover coconut milk kicking about, so I used this for sweetness instead and reduced the amounts of honey and sugar.  To add more coconut flavour, add some essence or replace 50g of the flour with 50g of dessicated coconut. 

Pumpkin, Ginger and Coconut loaf

You will need:

50g cooled melted butter
75 g honey
1 large egg
150 ml coconut milk
1 tsp coconut essence (optional)
250g grated pumpkin
100g light muscovado sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp demerara or light muscovado sugar

Method:

1.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.  Butter and line a loaf tin.

2.  Combine the flour, muscovado and ginger in a small bowl.

3.  In a large bowl, beat together the egg, honey, butter, coconut milk, essence and grated pumpkin.

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.

5.  Pour into your prepared loaf tin and  sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

6.  Bake for an hour until golden and cooked through when tested with a cake tester.  Allow to cool before slicing and spreading liberally with butter. 

Waste not want not:
Smoky Pumpkin Seeds

When carving your pumpkin, it is generally assumed that you scoop out the fleshy innards, including the seeds and chuck them in the bin.  Don’t.  Save the seeds- pop them in a bowl and into the fridge until you have a spare 15 minutes and you’ve got the oven on.  

You want it to be set to 200 degrees C and have a large oven tray to hand.  Spread your seeds onto this and remove any stringy bits of pumpkin flesh.  Sprinkle with lots of sea salt, more than you think you’ll need, pepper and some paprika.  Drizzle with a good slug of oil- olive if you have it, but plain will do too.  Roast in the oven, giving the seeds the occasional shuffle about, until golden and toasted.  They’ll keep for about a week and make for an irresistible nibble. 

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Harriet Howgego
    11/11/2012

    Gorgeous – made the risotto today for lunch (with butternut squash instead of pumpkin). Love the addition of lemon zest :) Also made the toasted seeds – loved those too!
    Thanks Stef. Love Harriet xxx

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