Pumpkin

Pumpkins – What to do with them

October, I love everything about it – the colours, the weather, the fact it is Halloween (and my wedding anniversary) and the food! I bought my first Halloween pumpkin last weekend, it was a BEAST for £3 from Sainsbury’s and it was worth every penny. The poor Halloween pumpkin is often wasted once it hits the shops with most people only using it to carve and leave out on the 31st. There are so many wonderful things you can do with this bright orange beauty!

 

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Roast pumpkin seeds

This is the only reason my husband buys pumpkins, he loves nothing more than snacking on the super tasty and extremely healthy seeds inside. They are super easy to do too.

Removed seeds from the pumpkin, discarding all the goopy insides.

Rinse them under warm water to make sure all the gunk is off them.

Put them in a pan of very salty water – most recipes say 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to every cup of seeds.

Boil them for 10 minutes.

Drain and dry them on kitchen roll.

Prepare a baking tray with baking parchment and about a tablespoon of olive oil (spread across the tray).

Add seeds to tray and rub in the oil, bake for 5-15 minutes in a medium hot oven (I do 200oC Fan) or until the seeds have browned.

Allow to cool and enjoy.

You can use them to top salads, in smoothies or simply as a tasty snack.

 

Pumpkin, Apple and Ginger Soup

pumpkin, apple and ginger soup

This extremely tasty and warming soup is perfect for those colder nights. The best part about this quick and easy recipe is that it has a 0 (ZERO) Weight Watchers pro points value per serving and my son loved it.

Ingredients for 4 servings.

10 sprays of calorie controlled cooking spray

1 medium onion – chopped

1 medium apple (any kind) – chopped

1 small carrot – chopped

2 teaspoons of fresh ginger root

450g pumpkin – deseeded, peeled and chopped

2 Gluten-free vegetable stock cubes – prepared with 850mls of hot water (if not it won’t be 0pp)

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt and black pepper

Instructions

Heat the cooking spray in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, apple and carrot for 3 – 4 minutes, until softened.

Add the ginger and stir well.

Add the pumpkin and stock to the saucepan.

Bring to the boil, then simmer gently without a lid for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.*

Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend for 15 seconds, or until smooth.

Return to the saucepan, reheat and season to taste with allspice or nutmeg, salt and pepper.

*I precooked all of my pumpkin as I used it for a few dishes so instead of adding it to the other vegetables and boiling for 20 mins, I added it for the last 5 minutes to warm it through.

 

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Until this week I had never tried pumpkin pie, I had always wanted to but never got round to it. It is delicious and if you like egg custard then you will love it too.

Ingredients (8 servings, 8 pro points per serving)

750g pumpkin or butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks

350g sweet shortcrust pastry (I used Sainsburys’ ready-rolled pastry)

Plain flour, for dusting

140g caster sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg – grated

1 teaspoon cinnamon

eggs – beaten

25g butter – melted

175ml milk

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Instructions

Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool.

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.

Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.

I found that I had so much pumpkin left over from this beauty that I also added it to a chicken stew one night, attempted (and failed) at a batch of pumpkin muffins and was able to freeze enough for more meals in the future after I puréed it. A Halloween pumpkin really isn’t just for one day, enjoy them while they are here and don’t forget that there are many types of pumpkin and squash that have their own unique flavours and quirks – it is an amazing vegetable!