Not content with growing the vegetables, a couple of weeks ago I
rashly gamely offered to demonstrate a few ways of cooking pumpkin flesh at Callan community garden as there’s little point in growing food if we don’t know how to prepare and eat it. It’s the first year we’ve grown a pumpkin patch there and as the fruit have swollen nicely, it seemed a good idea to demonstrate that there’s more to pumpkins than Halloween window decorations. I’m sure many of us are, or have been guilty of discarding the flesh we scoop out and it seems such a waste of good food. In the shops and farmers markets, pumpkins are coming into season and are a vegetable/fruit that will store for months in a cool, dry environment, making them a fantastic winter staple.
Not only do pumpkins make great decorations, they are extremely good for us, containing over 200% of our recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, the vitamin that’s good for our eye sight, they’re rich in fibre, contain very few calories and are great for helping to lower cholesterol among other things.
I’m a family cook who likes a recipe in front of me (even though I stray from it quite regularly) which therefore resulted in a very informal cookery session at the family resource centre where everyone helped with the prepping and washing up, before gathering to share the food presented. I chose two safe, tried and tasted savoury pumpkin recipes using the flesh from one medium-sized pumpkin, as well as a roasted seed recipe that you can find below. I also demonstrated how to make courgette cake, a recipe I’ve talked about on several occasions but gardeners had yet to try. The courgette cake recipe can be found here and the basic soup and delicately flavoured pumpkin rice recipes here. I’m afraid there’s no photos as I was too busy cooking.
I would have loved to have baked a pumpkin dessert for the group but simply didn’t have time to find a recipe that uses fresh pumpkin flesh – no matter where I looked, they all used tinned pumpkin purée. However, I’ve since been given this recipe that shares how to make our own purée by Kristen who writes That Blooming Garden Blog, so they’ll be no stopping us.
If you’d like to try cooking pumpkins this year, as well as the recipes linked above that I cooked for the group, I’ve added a few variations of soup at the bottom of the post from some fellow garden bloggers.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
225g pumpkin seeds
2 tbls salt
1 tblsp olive oil
Heat oven to 20oºC/Gas 6/400ºF
Remove the ‘lid’ of the pumpkin at the stalk end by cutting a disk shape around the top with a sharp knife. Scoop out the soft, seedy, fibrous flesh inside with a metal spoon and place into a colander, leaving the tougher flesh that’s around the inside of the pumpkin to tackle later for another recipe.
Pick out as many of the seeds as you can before sifting through the rest under a tap of running water. (Tip: do this holding the colander over a bowl and use the drained water for the plants or flush the toilet with it.)
Add the seeds, water and salt to a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes or so to allow the seeds to soften.
Take off the heat, drain, pat the seeds dry with a clean tea towel then toss in the olive oil before placing on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for around ten to twenty minutes, until the seeds brown.
Three Pumpkin Soup Recipes
Soup is such a versatile dish, quick to make and winter warming too. Here are some links to three variations of pumpkin soup you might like to try.
The first is from Emma from De Tout Coeur Limousin in France where she adds sage, garlic and chilli to her pumpkin recipe .
Secondly, from Kristin in British Columbia, a step by step guide to pumpkin soup with a nutmeg flavouring, very handy if you’re new to soup making.
Lastly (and these are in no particular order) Heather from the New House New Home New Life blog makes a curried soup and although has used purée as a base, the flavouring could easily be switched to a fresh pumpkin recipe.
If you’d like to try your hand at decorating this year’s pumpkins with embellishments and not carving them, there’s a fun competition over on Melissa’s Empress of Dirt Blog where the winning entry could take on the illustrious title of Creator Of The Ultimate Pumpkin Head of 2014!
History of Pumpkin Carving
If you prefer to carve your pumpkins, here’s an archived post on the blog that explains why we do it. Did you know the tradition originated in Ireland?
What do you think… will you be cooking your pumpkin this year?