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As the nights draw near fill your tum with some Pumpkin cheer!
Member Name: berrydelight
Advantages: Versatile, healthy
Disadvantages: People throwing them away
So I admit im a little bit late and have missed the major annual pumpkin related event but what will you do with the orange beauties now? They are liable to be on offer in supermarkets everywhere as shoppers turn their backs on this fabulously versatile ingredient and so join me for a quick review of pumpkins and a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes!
Pumpkins are from the same family as squash and according to Saturday Kitchen at the weekend are seeing a huge surge in popularity as people like me realise there is more to them then making scary faces at Halloween (an art form in itself! A quick Google search brings up some incredible images and as you can imagine the US has plenty of Pumpkin carving contests). Amazingly they are considered to be a fruit but frankly it can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. Generally speaking they are orange, green when not quite ripe, because of their colour they share many of the same nutrients as carrots, namely beta carotene which generates Vitamin A for the body and prevents build up of cholesterol on arterial walls. They contain a high level of fibre, 3 grams in one cup as well as potassium which can lower hypertension.
They generally weigh between 4-8 kg and I remember many years ago throwing the whole thing out on the 1st November! Disgraceful!
Thanks to Wikipedia I learnt that although we used to carve creepy faces into all other manner of vegetables it wasn't until the 1837 that we did the same to a pumpkin and even later before they became synonymous with Halloween. This year mine was lovingly turned into a ghost, I draw on them first and then spend a good hour perfecting the somewhat sinister image.
Once my pumpkin has had its night of glory I cut it into sections, remove the flesh and dispose of the rind. You can even utilise the pumpkin seeds (apparently great for prostate - just roast and eat as a snack. I easily end up with three separate meals out of a medium sized pumpkin which this year cost me £2.50 in Somerfield.
I use mine to make pumpkin and sage pasta, pumpkin pie, pumpkin and roasted red pepper soup.....
**Pumpkin & Sage Pasta**
A super speedy meal and good for the veggies...
400g chopped pumpkin
½ teaspoon sugar
50g butter (get ready to loosen those belt buckles!)
small bunch of sage (I use dried)
enough spaghetti for 2
juice of ½ lemon
25g of Italian hard cheese, I use Parmagiano
1. Tip the pumpkin into a medium-sized saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle over the sugar and a generous pinch of salt, then drizzle over 3 tablespoons of water. Cover the pan, place on a medium heat and steam the pumpkin, stirring every so often for 10-15 minutes, or until it is soft but still holds its shape. You may need add a spoonful or two of water during the cooking the pan seems dry. Set aside.
2. While the pumpkin is steaming, tip the butter and sage into a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is foaming, then turn off the heat. Boil the spaghetti in a big pan of salted water for about 10 minutes until just cooked. When the spaghetti is cooked, scoop out a little of the cooking water, then drain and return the spaghetti to the pan.
3. Put the sage butter over a high heat until sizzling, then pour in the lemon juice and let it splutter for a second. Tip the pumpkin, melted butter, 2-3 tbsp pasta water and half the cheese in with the spaghetti and give it a really good stir. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve with the remaining parmesan to sprinkle over.
A good old North American classic - I made this for the first time last year for a Canadian who was missing home and now adore it!! I cheat and use a ready made sweet pastry case because as usual Im pushed for time! This one is courtesy of Antony Warrhol Thompson.
For the filling:
450 g/1lb prepared weight pumpkin flesh, cut into 1in/2.5 cm chunks
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (use the white for another dish)
3 oz/75g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
10 fl oz/275 ml double cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Use a shop bought sweet crust pastry case, about 9 inch/23 cm diameter and 1½ inches/4 cm deep.
3. To make the filling, steam the pumpkin then place in a coarse sieve and press lightly to extract any excess water.
4. Then lightly whisk the eggs and extra yolk together in a large bowl.
5. Place the sugar, spices and the cream in a pan, bring to simmering point, giving it a whisk to mix everything together. Then pour it over the eggs and whisk it again briefly.
6. Now add the pumpkin pureé, still whisking to combine everything thoroughly. 7. Then pour the filling into your pastry case and bake for 35-40 minutes, by which time it will puff up round the edges but still feel slightly wobbly in the centre.
8. Then remove it from the oven and place the tin on a wire cooling rack. Serve chilled (stored loosely covered in foil in the fridge) with some equally chilled créme fraïche, but warm or at room temperature would be fine.
Seriously tasty definitely worth a try!
**Pumpkin & Red Pepper Soup**
Warming and perfect for watching the fireworks with for Bonfire Night...
1kg of pumpkin, peeled and chopped
3 Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
1 Red Pepper, Halved and roasted until slightly soft
1 Red Onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
I Large Tablespoon Crème Fraiche (optional but yummy!)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Some dried chilli and parsley to garnish
Gently fry the onion and pepper in the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic, then the tomato and pumpkin. Give all the ingredients a good stir and fry for a few more minutes, then add one and a half litres of water and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer for about twenty minutes or until the pepper and pumpkin are cooked. Add the juice of half a lemon, the salt, pepper and simmer for another two minutes. Stir in the Crème Fraiche, then whizz the soup with a hand held liquidiser.
I hope you enjoy and if Im too late for this year that it inspires you for next!
Summary: What to with your lantern when its no longer loved...
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