As I’ve mentioned before, I do love a pumpkin. Few vegetables signify a season quite as well. And, yes, I know this may in part be to our ever-expanding americanization, but I don’t mind so much in this instance. I know that the Yankee abduction of our seasons and traditions over here in Europe is often no more than a marketing ploy, but I’ll happily buy into a pumpkin fad. And anyway, they are the ultimate frugal veg because you can get so much out of them- a bargain rather than a frivolous, unnecessary splurge. So take that, Hollywood.
So every year, I buy a pumpkin and I cook with it. This year, I managed to get three decent recipes and meals from 1 medium sized pumpkin. Here are two with the final one to follow.
Happy New Year!
Its been a busy festive period here at Always So Hungry with travels down to Devon for Christmas via a short stint in Somerset then back up to London and onto Scotland for a New Years Eve wedding and finally back down to London for my start at Leiths. Can I have a holiday now, please?
Having said that, I had a wonderful few weeks not least because I got to experience my first Hogmanay. Those Scots sure know how to put on a decent do.
As a little hat tip, I’d like to present a twist on their classic shortbread. This foolproof recipe has been adapted to add a little flavoursome zing. I’m not entirely sure what they’d make of it north of the border, but I thought it worked out rather well. Adjust the flavours to your liking.
You will need:
110g unsalted butter, softened
55g caster sugar + a little extra
110 g plain flour
55 g ground rice/ rice flour
1 lemongrass stems, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp coconut essence (optional)
100 g dessicated coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, lemongrass, essence (if using) and 50 g of the coconut in a large bowl.
3. Sift the flours into the bowl and work into a smooth paste.
4. Use a 15cm flan ring onto a lined baking sheet to press half the shortbread paste into a neat circle. Repeat with the other half of the paste. Crimp the edges and mark into a 6-8 wedges. Prick with a fork. Chill until firm.
5. Sprinkle the shortbread with a little extra caster sugar and coconut and bake for about 20 minutes until it is a pale biscuit colour.
6. Run a palate knife underneath the shortbread to release. Cool for 5 minutes before breaking into wedges. Alternatively, you can use a glass or round biscuit cutter to make round shortbread. Prick with a fork and crimp the edges, before rolling the sides in a little of the coconut and baking.
The nights are drawing in now properly and the dark mornings seem increasingly difficult to face from the comfort of a duvet. I find that the only thing that is likely to drag me out of bed is the promise of a decent cup of tea and a good breakfast. With that in mind, I made this granola. Scattered over a dollop of greek yoghurt and some of my super quick plum compote (literally just some chopped plums and a few tablespoons of water, boiled rapidly for a few mins), it seems to do the trick when it feels like nothing can.
Honey-baked Coconut Granola
You will need:
30g coconut chips
45g rolled oats
30g oat bran or wheat germ
40g sunflower seeds
80g almond flakes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
120 ml honey
100g unsalted butter
80g golden raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment or foil.
2. Heat a large frying pan without any fat or oil and toast the coconut chips until slightly golden. Set to one side.
3. Combine the oats, oat bran or wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almond flakes and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. Melt together the honey and butter in a small pan over a low heat. Pour over the granola mix well.
5. Spread onto the tray and bake undisturbed for about 20-25 minutes, until golden.
6. Leave to cool before breaking the granola into pieces. Add the raisins and toasted coconut before storing in an airtight container. Will keep for about a week, if it lasts that long.
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
sea salt, pepper
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
A bunch of sage leaves, torn
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
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.