October, ah, my favourite season. The burnt orange leaves, chilly air and big open fires are all delightful, but it has to be said it’s the food that gets me totally excited at this time of year.

 

Which brings me to the pumpkin. We’ve all panic bought a supermarket squash, only to carve it for Halloween, and then discard the whole thing once the witches and wizards have stopped knocking at the door.

 

But as pumpkin picking becomes one of the few pastimes we’re still allowed to indulge in (so long, trick or treating), we now have so many more varieties on offer – and let me assure you, each comes with its own personality and taste.

 

As a bonus, pumpkins and squashes are also incredibly nutritious – as are these deliciously simple recipes I’ll be putting to use as Halloween approaches.

 

Roasted kabocha pumpkin, black sesame hummus and pomegranate on griddled sourdough

 

Ingredients: 

One small kabocha pumpkin, or any variety you like

400g tin chickpeas

2 tbsp black sesame tahini (or use regular tahini)

1 lemon, juiced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

Olive oil

Sourdough, sliced

A few pomegranate seeds

 

  1. Peel, chop and roast the pumpkin at 150°c for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft.

 

  1. Add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic to the bowl of a blender, and gradually add olive oil, blitzing until smooth.

 

  1. Toast your sourdough slices in a griddle pan with olive oil and some sea salt, then layer them up with hummus and pumpkin. Top with a few pomegranate seeds and tuck in.

 

Sugar pie pumpkin and shitake mushroom pizza with olive tapenade

 

Ingredients:

1 sugar pie pumpkin, or any variety you like

A good handful of shitake mushrooms

1 jar black olive tapenade (I like Belazu)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Olive oil

Pizza dough (see below) or pizza bases

Chopped herbs of your choosing

 

  1. Peel, chop and roast the pumpkin at 150°c for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft. Remove from the oven, and turn the temperature up to 200°c.

 

  1. Fry the mushroom in a little olive oil and butter for about five minutes, then add crushed garlic. Continue to cook very slowly until everything is slightly caramelised, then set aside.

 

  1. Roll out your pizza dough and spread with the olive tapenade. Scatter the chunks of roast pumpkin over the top and drizzle some olive oil around the edges.

 

  1. Bake in your hot oven for around then minutes, then remove and scatter over your mushrooms and herbs before serving.

 

For the pizza dough:

800g strong white bread flour

200g fine ground semolina flour or strong white bread flour

1 tsp fine sea salt

2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast

1 tbsp golden caster sugar

 

  1. Pile the flours and salt onto a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast and sugar to 650ml lukewarm water, mix together and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.

 

  1. Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour – when the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.

 

  1. Knead the dough by rolling it backwards and forwards, using your hands to stretch, pull and push the dough. Keep kneading for ten minutes, or until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.

 

  1. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to prove for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

 

  1. Remove and knead for a few minutes more and divide into balls. Any unused dough can be frozen for later.

 

Roasted crown prince pumpkin and cauliflower with melted raclette

 

Ingredients:

1 crown prince pumpkin, or any variety you like

1 cauliflower

1 block raclette cheese

A few chipotle chilli flakes

 

  1. Peel and chop the pumpkin, then chop up the cauliflower so the chunks of both are roughly the same size. Sprinkle with a few chilli flakes, then roast at 150°c until tender, but not too soft – this should take around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.

 

  1. Thinly slice your raclette and lay it on top of your pumpkin and cauliflower. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and black pepper, then place under a hot grill until the cheese starts to bubble.

 

  1. Remove from the grill and serve immediately with some gorgeous crusty bread.

 

Kabocha pumpkin with goat’s cheese, griddled courgettes and burnt cherry tomatoes

 

Ingredients:

1 small kabocha pumpkin, or any variety you like

1 pack soft goat’s cheese

1 yellow courgette

1 green courgette

A handful of cherry tomatoes

Sourdough

 

  1. Peel, chop and roast the pumpkin at 150°c for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

 

  1. Once cooled, mix in your goat’s cheese, crushing the pumpkin with a fork as you go. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

 

  1. Slice and griddle the courgettes, then grill the tomatoes so the skin starts to blacken.

 

  1. Toast your sourdough, then assemble your sandwich. Eat – with plenty of napkins to hand.

 

Pumpkin-spiced flatbreads filled with crown prince pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate

 

Ingredients:

½ small crown prince pumpkin

Peanut butter

85% dark chocolate, finely chopped

 

For the flatbreads:

350g organic self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp baking powder

350g Greek live bio or vegan yoghurt

2 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp sea salt

 

 

  1. Peel, chop and roast the pumpkin at 150°c for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft.

 

  1. Make the flatbreads by mixing all the dry ingredients together, then adding the yoghurt and mixing it all roughly together. Split the dough into 12 small balls and roll each out thinly, using plenty of flour to stop them sticking.

 

  1. Spread half of your raw flatbreads with peanut butter and crushed pumpkin, then sprinkle over some dark chocolate chunks. Sandwich each together with the remaining flat breads, using your fingers to press and seal around the edges.

 

  1. Melt some butter (or olive oil for a vegan alternative) and brush each flatbread.

 

  1. Get your griddle or frying pan on a hot heat, then add the flatbreads and cook for about four minutes on each side, until crisp and golden.

 

  1. Melt a bit more chocolate and drizzle on the top of each flatbread before tucking in – and just try not to eat them all in one go…

 

 

Why are pumpkins perfect health boosters?

 

Pumpkin is nutrient-dense, high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. It’s also a great source of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body converts into vitamin A, as well as antioxidants that can help protect your cells against damage by free radicals. Pumpkin also contains high levels of vitamins A, C and E, iron and folate, which are all associated with strengthened immunity.

 

Pumpkin, once sliced and cut, can be easily roasted, puréed into soup or baked into pies, the edible seeds are highly nutritious, and the varieties, as endless as they are, can be easily swapped and substituted for each other depending on local availability.

 

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