Pumpkins not just for Halloween!

Pumpkins are grown in this country primarily for celebrating Halloween and the majority are not eaten. I would like to change that!

Pumpkins store well, they are full of fibre, really high in Vitamin A (beta-carotene, like carrots) and also contain vitamin C and potassium. The seeds are also nutritious and contain antioxidants, numerous vitamins and minerals.

Pumpkins are really easy to grow and come in various colours, you just need to water them alot! Home grown pumpkins tend to grow less intensively and heavier. Try and pick heavy pumpkins at the supermarket they will be less watery.

An ice cream scoop is a great way to take out the flesh once all the seeds are removed. Scrape away at the insides to remove the flesh (this will make the walls thinner and easier to carve too). Don’t get rid of the seeds!

The empty pumpkin can make a great serving dish for a biriyani using the pumpkin flesh. Pumpkin is quite a bland flavour and really soaks up spices and works well in Morrocan or Indian dishes.

Simple recipe ideas for pumpkins (or any other squashes)

Pumpkin soup with puff pastry twists

I like to make soup with the flesh. Add the pulp to a chopped onion fried with a teaspoon of garam masala, then add a chopped apple, a tin of cannellini bean or a few potatoes with enough water to cover the contents of the pan and cook for about 20 minutes. You can add chilli, smoked paprika or garlic for more flavour. Use a stick blender to make it nice and smooth. If you find the soup is a little watery add some bread (dry or croutons work well for absorbing excess liquid) and blend again.

You can store the pulp for several day int he fridge before cooking. Roasting for about 40 minutes and mashing into a puree is useful for making soup, adding to bread, muffins or stuffing chapatis.

Alternatively grate it raw and use as an alternative to carrot in carrot cake/muffins. Just make sure you press down with a dry cloth/kitchen towel the excess moisture or you will end up with a soggy cake.

Can I eat the seeds?

Yes you can! They are full on micro nutrients and minerals. You can also eat seeds from butternut squashes too so don’t throw them away.

Wash the seeds to get the stringy bit off, dry in a tea towel or kitchen paper. Place on a baking tray and drizzle a little oil, salt and your favourite spices (cumin, chilli, smoke paprika or go sweet with cinnamon and brown sugar). Mix well so all the seeds are coated and bake for about 20 minutes at 150C until golden and crispy. Eat as snack, sprinkle on top of soup or blend into a powder and add to porridge and smoothies.

Don’t fancy eating the pumpkin but don’t want to waste it?

Pop the seeds in your bird feeder or place them in the empty pumpkin as a makeshift bird feeder. The local wildlife will nibble the flesh too.

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