Symbolising autumn’s harvest more than any other vegetable, pumpkin, and other members of the squash family, are in season and in-store now. Here are some ideas to make the most of their vibrant colouring and naturally sweet flavour.
Pumpkin pairs well with other sweet notes (maple syrup, palm sugar, cinnamon, honey), things with spicy heat like chilli, and rich nuts and dairy products. In savoury dishes, it pays to add a decent salty or umami hit (soy or tamari, fish sauce, miso, cheese, flavoured salts) and a lick of tart helps, too (lemon or lime, tamarind, aged vinegars).
Thinly sliced pumpkin tempura is a thing of beauty – the key with tempura is using iced water to make the batter. Pumpkin mash or purée makes a nice change from potato – add any of the aforementioned flavours to balance the sweetness – miso and butter is a winner
Sugar and Spice:
Its sweetness lends itself to baking – pumpkin pie is a classic, also give it a whirl in semi-sweet loaves, muffins, and even donuts. It can be added to spicy dishes like curries and Mexican chilli to balance the heat and add substance.
Pumpkin soup never goes out of fashion, and the brilliant thing is it can be taken in many different directions. Give it a Southeast Asian spin with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, palm sugar, ginger, garlic, bird’s eye chilli with a dash of lime juice and fish sauce to finish. Go Moroccan with ras-el-hanout spice blend, and a garnish of yoghurt swirled with harissa, or Italian with warming nutmeg, and plenty of grated parmesan and crispy fried sage leaves to garnish.
Oodles of noodles:
If there’s a more fun vegetable than spaghetti squash, we’d like to see it! The basic method of cooking is to halve it, remove the seeds, brush with oil and season it, then bake till tender, before using a fork to gently scrape the flesh to create ‘spaghetti’. Then you can add flavour – it can be as simple as olive oil and black pepper, but, if you think of it just like spaghetti, you can go to town with all sorts of flavours – lashings of smoked butter and parmesan, fried sage leaves, toasted hazelnuts, Napoletana sauce, or creamy carbonara style sauce.
Roasted in thin slices or diced, it can star in all sorts of salads. Some good friends to pair it with include chickpeas, rocket, semi-dried tomatoes, salty cheese like feta, halloumi, blue, or manchego, red onion, rocket, kale, lentils, quinoa, crisp bacon, and sweet-sharp dressings with balsamic or apple cider vinegar and honey or maple syrup.
Save our seeds!
Once scraped out, pumpkin and squash seeds can be scrubbed to clean off any flesh, dried on a paper towel, then tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper (add spices if you like) and spread out on a baking tray to roast for 15-20 mins in a hot oven till golden. Cool before snacking on them – the shells can be cracked open with your teeth with a little practice.