Leftover pumpkin?

As promised, here is the third instalment of my pumpkin bonanza.  I really enjoyed making (and eating) this autumnal take on pork meatballs.  The pumpkin makes your meat go a bit further and because they are baked in the oven, rather than fried, just that little bit healthier.   You could also use a lean mince to really up the health credentials.  The chèvre cream is one of my favourite things in the world- it works as a dip, a sauce with pasta (see serving suggestion below in step 3) or just as an accompaniment to some grilled meat.  

Pork, Pumpkin and Sage Meatballs 

You will need: 
500g pork mince
1/4 Pumpkin, peeled and grated coarsely
1 red onion, grated coarsely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped sage
2 lemons, zest only
75g plain flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
handful of pine nuts

For the chèvre cream
125g soft, rindless goats cheese
100g crème fraiche
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp honey


1.  Preheat the oven to 200C.  In a large bowl, combine the pork, pumpkin and red onion.  Stir through the sage, garlic and the zest of 1 lemon.  Finally, sift over the flour and season generously.  Stir this through the mixture, adding a little more flour if it seems very soft- although be aware that this should be quite a wet mixture, to keep the meatballs moist.

2.  Roll into meatballs, about 5cm in diameter and place on a lightly oiled oven tray.  Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, shaking the tray ever so often, until all the meatballs are nicely golden.

3.  Meanwhile,  mix together the goats cheese, crème fraiche, garlic and honey until smooth-either with a fork to mash up the cheese or in a mini chopper.  Serve the meatballs with the chèvre cream, pine nuts and lemon zest perhaps along side some wilted cavolo nero or spinach.  Alternatively, stir the chèvre cream through some tagliatelle and top with the meatballs. 


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
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. 

A model dinner.

I’m not entirely sure how, but the other week I managed to blag my way into the S/S 11 Ashish show during Fashion Week (I did have a pass, but I don’t think it was the right one, very complicated), but in I went, feeling totally out of place and not nearly trendy enough. I actually think standing in line waiting to get in was at least as good as the show itself- there were some brilliant, outrageous outfits.

photo credit: Fashion Hedonism

The whole thing was an utterly surreal experience and, unsurprisingly, what they say about the models is of course true. They are strange and gazelle-like and much too skinny, despite, I think, a BFC imposed BMI minimum at LFW. What struck me the most was how young they seemed, more than anything else. If I were to have one of them round for dinner, I’d probably cook something like this. Wholewheat pasta with prawns, lemon, tomato and sage sauce. With lots of salad. Complex carbs, protein and plenty of veg. The model plate.