As long as it’s not punctured or obviously rotting a pumpkin should be fine.
- PUMPKIN PIE: Use cinnamon and ginger in sweet dishes, nutmeg in savoury. An American favourite
- EASIEST STARTER EVER: Halve a pumpkin or squash — the more decorative the better — scoop out the seeds and butter the inside. Put another dollop of butter in for good measure, along with salt and pepper. Depending on size, microwave for five to 12 minutes, until the flesh scoops out easily in a spoon. Serve. If you really feel the urge to complicate matters, try sprinkling with sage or cumin, and rubbing with garlic
- PUMPKIN SOUP: Prepare as above, but sprinkle with curry powder to taste as well as salt & pepper. Scoop out the flesh, blend it with hot chicken stock and grated nutmeg. Stir in cream. Serve in the pumpkin shell halves (no washing-up). Dropping in some crispy salty croutons, lardons or caramelised onion rings, will not harm this soup at all
- STEW or SIDE DISH: Make soup as above, then — to your own taste — add cooked yellow lentils, with mint, ginger and saffron, maybe some lime juice. Stir in plain yoghurt, and scatter with pomegranate seeds for seasonal colour. Goes well with roast lamb (see overleaf), good sausages or curry
- POSH NOSH: Pumpkin Soup, Onion Bhaji & Cod
For those keen to try something more spectacular, Daniel Moon, Head Chef at Ston Easton Park Hotel, in Somerset, has kindly donated this recipe. SOUP Peel, de-seed and dice a 1kg pumpkin. Dice 1 celery stick, 4 garlic cloves & 2 large shallots. Sweat them all in a large pan with 4 tbsp olive oil, 250g butter & 500ml chicken stock. When the veg is soft, add 150ml double cream, reduce a little, liquidise until smooth, and season to taste.
BHAJI Sift 30g rice flour & 60g plain flour. Mix with 1 tbsp butter & 50ml lemon juice to the consistency of double cream (add cold water if necessary). Add 1 tsp ground coriander, 11⁄2 tsp chilli powder, 1⁄2 tsp cumin, 1⁄2 tsp turmeric. Season to taste. Slice 2 large onions, add in and mix well. Shape the mixture into four bhajis and shallow-fry until golden brown.
COD Icelandic cod is a good sustainable choice just now; check other types at fishonline.org. Roast two cod steaks in an oven, possibly with a little pesto. FINALLY . . . serve as pictured, with spinach. Voilà!
Pumpkins grow in every continent except Antarctica. The first pumpkin pies were created by American colonists (or so they claim), who filled the fruits with milk, spice and honey, and baked them in ashes. Pumpkin pie is, of course, an iconic American dish; Morton (Illinois) claims to be the world’s Pumpkin Capital. The largest pumpkin pie ever was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds; it was made out of 80lb cooked pumpkin, 36lb sugar and 144 eggs, and it took six hours to bake. Pumpkins can weigh anything from one pound to 1000lb, and are composed of 90% water. They are great multitaskers – the flowers are edible, the seeds make great snacks when roasted, and you can use the shells as plates before throwing them on the compost heap.