It's that time of the year again, when shops are full of pumpkins and many families across the country will be showing off their best carvings for Halloween.
But while they're often used just for display purposes, pumpkin can be something used for some delicious pies, soups and other tasty treats.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Darina Allen - chef, author and founder of Ballymaloe Cookery School - offered her tips on how to use your leftover pumpkin in creative ways.
She explained that pumpkin is delicious and also low in calories.
She observed: “Pumpkin can be mild in flavour, but you can add in lots of herbs and spices - like cumin and coriander. You could make a puree from it.
“Once you’ve scooped out the pumpkin, if you don’t feel like making soup or a pie… you can actually just freeze it and use it later. Or you could make a lovely gratin with it or something.
“It’s delicious roasted, and every part can be used - you can scoop out the pumpkin seeds for the kids.
“The skin of the pumpkin is quite thick, so you can leave an inch inside. There’s the firmer flesh inside, and you can scoop that out."
Here are some of Darina Allen's top pumpkin recipes:
Wizard’s Soup in a Pumpkin Shell
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup potato, chopped
- 3 cups of pumpkin, chopped
- 2 tsp thyme leaves, optional
- 5 cups of chicken or veg stock, or stock and milk mixed
- flaky sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of chilli flakes if you fancy
- roasted pumpkin seeds (see recipe)
- served in a hollowed out pumpkin
One can use water, chicken or vegetable stock and season simply with salt and freshly ground pepper. Complementary fresh herbs or spices may also be added.
Choose a large pumpkin. Carefully remove the lid, preferably with the stump attached. First scoop out all the seeds and filaments. Separate the seeds and toast as below. Scoop out the flesh being careful not to damage the shell. Chop the flesh and use to make the pumpkin soup.
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add potatoes, onions and pumpkin and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the boiling stock. Boil until soft and liquidise. Do not overcook or the pumpkin will lose its flavour. Adjust seasoning. Pour the boiling soup in to the pumpkin shell. Cover with the lid and serve hot with some toasted pumpkin seeds on top.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roast pumpkin seeds with salt or sugar and add them to breakfast cereals, breads or simply nibble to your heart’s content. Alternatively, dry the seed and save for next year’s crop.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sea salt
Preheat the oven to 120ºC/250ºF/gas mark 1⁄2.
Remove the seeds from the flesh and rinse under cold water. Lay a single layer on a baking tray and sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt.
Dry roast in the oven for 30–40 minutes, by which time the seeds should be nice and crunchy.
- A slice of pumpkin with seeds and cottony fibres removed
- Olive oil or beef dripping
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4
Cut the pumpkin into chunks with a bit of skin on each piece. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss in olive oil or melted dripping, roast in the preheated oven for 3/4 - 1 hour depending on size, turn occasionally during cooking and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. Alternatively arrange in a dish, scatter with grated gruyere cheese and flash under a grill until the cheese becomes bubbly and brown. If you then scatter it with crispy bacon and lots of chopped parsley you have a supper dish rather than just an accompanying vegetable.
Eoin Cluskey’s (Bread Nation/Bread 41) Pumpkin Pie
- 200g (7oz) plain flour
- 100g (3 1/2oz) butter
- 50ml (2fl oz) water
- pinch of salt
- 300g (11oz) pumpkin flesh (finely chopped) (variety – Uchiki Kuri)
- 225g (8oz) golden syrup
- 75-100g (3 – 3 1/2oz) pumpkin skin
- 80g (3oz) breadcrumbs
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of ground ginger
- 23cm (9 inch) round tart tin
First make the pastry.
Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and then rub in with your fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.
Using a fork to stir, add just enough water to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Flatten into a round and wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Once rested, roll out, line the tart tin and retain the excess pastry. Line the tin with parchment paper and fill with baking beans and chill for 5-10 minutes in a refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Bake the tart base blind for about 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until pale and golden, remove the beans and paper.
Brush the prebaked tart shell with a little beaten egg and pop back into the oven for
5-10 minutes or until almost cooked. Cool.
Peel the pumpkin and set aside the skin (keep the seeds for roasting for a healthy snack). Finely chop the flesh. Heat the golden syrup in a pan and add the pumpkin flesh, lemon zest and juice. Bring this mixture to the boil and remove from the heat. Blitz the breadcrumbs and pumpkin skin in a food processor and add a pinch of ground ginger. Mix the bread crumb/pumpkin skin mixture into the pumpkin flesh/syrup mixture.
Fill the tart case with this pumpkin mixture and decorate as your wish with the left over pastry – lattice, leaves etc.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool, remove from the tin.
Serve either warm or cold with softly whipped cream.
Pumpkin or Roast Sweet Potato with Labneh, Chilli and Sesame Seeds
Pumpkins, butternut squash and sweet potato are super versatile. The former can decorate your window sills until you are ready to eat them.
This delicious combination can be served as a starter or a light lunch
- 1.15kg (2 1/2 lbs) sweet potatoes or pumpkin
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 400g (14oz) Labneh or freshly dripped natural yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 100g (3 1/2oz) red scallion or red onion
- 1small clove garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2-2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh chilli, chopped
- snipped flat parsley
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 25g (1oz) toasted sesame seeds
- sprigs of flat parsley, coriander or purslane
- flaky sea salt
- flat breads
Preheat the oven to 230°C/Gas Mark 8.
1 x 33cm (12 inch) x 22.9cm (9 inch) x 0.6cm (5mm) roasting tin
Cut the sweet potatoes into quarters or sixths, depending on size, or 4cm thick rounds, they need to be chunky, (cut the pumpkin into similar size pieces). Toss in extra virgin olive oil. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a roasting tin. Cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, mix the labneh or dripped yoghurt with one tablespoon extra-virgin oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Chop the red onion finely, put into a sieve, rinse under cold water and drain. Put in a bowl with the crushed garlic, fish sauce, diced chilli, snipped parsley and lemon juice, mix gently. Taste and correct seasoning.
Put a generous dollop of labneh on top of each piece of pumpkin. Spoon a little of the marinade on top.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, flat parsley sprigs, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt.
Serve with warm flat bread.