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Halloween

Avoid kitchen nightmares this Halloween and experiment with pumpkins

Pumpkins are squandered in the UK. They are carved out for Halloween and then discarded the next day as rubbish. Don’t throw your pumpkin away this year! Pumpkin is not only an excellent source of antioxidants but also vitamin-A and iron.

The US is way ahead of us in realising the great potential of pumpkin. It can seem a daunting ingredient to use at first, but it is simply another versatile vegetable. The best thing to do with your leftover pumpkin is to make it into a purée. This is really easy and freezes well if you have too much.

Pumpkin Purée

Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰C. Cut the pumpkin into quarters and place on a baking tray, skin side up. Sprinkle with a little olive oil, cover it in foil and bake for one hour. Once it’s baked, scoop out the flesh and mash it into a purée with a fork.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

This is so popular in Starbucks in the US that when rumours of a pumpkin spice syrup shortage exploded over Twitter there was a national uproar. Luckily for us, this drink is extremely easy to make at home, a real winter warmer.

Ingredients (serves one)

  • 300ml whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (equal parts cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 mug of hot, strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of double cream
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, to taste
  • Whipped spray cream
  • Sprinkling of nutmeg

Method

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and vanilla. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until it is hot and frothy.
  2. Pour the hot milk into a tall glass, topping up with the hot coffee. Pour in the cream and the teaspoon of sugar. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Roast Pumpkin and Spinach Tortellini

Combining superfoods, this dish is a healthy and filling alternative to a dull pasta bake.

Ingredients (serves three)

  • 500g raw pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 200g cooked roast chicken
  • 75g baby spinach
  • 30g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 375ml milk
  • 20g parmesan, grated
  • 40g cheddar, grated
  • 1 300g packet of spinach and ricotta tortellini

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200⁰C. Place the pumpkin chunks on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 1 hour.
  2. In a saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and gently cook the leek for around 5 minutes. Add the chicken and spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Add to a 1 litre casserole dish.
  3. In the pan, melt the butter until frothy. Add the flour and cook, constantly stirring for 30 seconds. Add the milk gradually and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the grated parmesan.
  4. Cook the tortellini according to pack instructions. Add the cooked tortellini, roasted pumpkin and parmesan mixture to the casserole dish, stirring everything to combine. Top with the cheddar and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. 

Pumpkin, Walnut and White Chocolate Cake

This delicious flavour combination is a crowd pleaser and a great way to use up some of the pumpkin purée if you’re in the mood for something sweet.

Ingredients (makes one loaf cake)

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 50g white chocolate chunks
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g pumpkin purée
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • Few drops of orange food colouring
  • Chocolate sprinkles to decorate

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and butter with your hands to form fine crumbs. Stir in the walnuts, almonds, sugar and chocolate.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the pumpkin purée with the eggs. Add this to the mixture and combine everything to make a batter.
  3. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake at 180⁰C for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until it comes out clean when a skewer is inserted into the middle.
  4. Cool on a wire rack. Combine the cream cheese, icing sugar and colouring and spread evenly over the top of the cake.

Incorporating pumpkin into your diet this autumn made easy – whether you’re a desert person, you’d rather try a tasty main, or play it safe with a warming drink – showing that there’s nothing scary about this delicious vegetable.

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