Pumpkin season is my favourite. I have been eagerly waiting pumpkin arrivals as I had so many recipe plans this autumn including pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and of course those yummy pumpkin seeds. Pumpkins are everywhere right now and as the most common autumn squashes they have a lot of uses beyond carving. We all love to create beautiful lanterns with them every year but did you know that you can make both sweet and savoury dishes with them? I was a little skeptical at first, growing up we just carved the pumpkin with it’s unappetising smell and tossed them out when they started to get mouldy. Don’t be fooled however, in food it comes alive and tastes amazing with just a little bit of spice. As well as being incredibly tasty, it’s also full of Vitamin C and Vitamin E so really great for your skin! So the girls and I have been busy making all sorts of recipes with our big and mini pumpkins that I seemed to have collected over the past month. At one point it felt like every time I went somewhere, I got another one! I just love pumpkins and taking photographs with them, and now it’s all about what else can I bake with them. Pumpkins are really versatile and full of goodness so please recycle them for food if you can, guaranteed there will be something you like!
So, where to begin? Depending on what type of pumpkin you have, will determine what dishes are best. Little pumpkins are great for baking and using as little bowls, small pumpkins are perfect for making puree and larger pumpkins are great for cutting up into slices and roasting. All of them are great for sweet and savoury dishes and go well with spices like cinnamon or cumin depending on your preference. So are you are a sweet or savoury type of person? You might just be suprised if you experiment with this delicious squash. Luckily I like both so of course I have tried a variety of dishes although my kids defintely prefer the sweeter ones! Now cooking with pumpkins is relatively easy but recipes I have made in the past have led to soggy food so make sure you prep your pumpkins properly to avoid this happening. I always make puree over using raw pumpkin in my dishes as I find this helps reduce the water. So here are some yummy recipe links that I have tried and tested including some tips that have helped me make the most of these awesome pumpkins!
Cutting A Pumpkin
Cutting pumpkins doesn’t need a lot of skill but it’s good to know techniques to make things easier and to look a little nicer for your baking. Cutting a small or large pumpkin to roast is actually quite satisfying, when you know how to do it properly you will never look back again. Using a sharp knife cut one line from the stalk all the way around back to the stalk again (don’t try cut the stalk it’s so tough, and can be prickly!). Once cut, turn the pumpkin upside down and literally rip it apart and it will make the most satisying crack revealing all it’s seeds. Little pumpkins are a little trickier to cut but can be baked without cutting first if you find it too tricky.
Roasted pumpkin is probably the simplest way of all to cook and eat it, it is also a great way of making puree or just cutting up and having as a side dish. When you scoop out all the seeds, makes sure to keep them as you will want to use them for another recipe. Also when you bake, make sure your oven is hot enough as pumpkins produce a lot of water and you could end up with a soggy tray. You can find out how to roast a pumpkin here.
Now the best way to make most pumpkin dishes is by using prepped pumpkin as the base, also known as pumpkin puree. We don’t really get canned pumpkin puree in the shops here in the UK, so it’s best to make your own which you can simply do by roasting any pumpkin and adding some spices. The smaller pumpkins are better for roasting usually about 1kg, they are a bit sweeter and fit easier in the oven or you can roast smaller ones individually. If you only have bigger pumpkins, it’s best to chop up first before roasting. Once you have roasted your pumpkin you can literally scoop out all of the flesh and leave the skin remaining, sometimes you can peel the skin right off too. Put all the scooped pumpkin into a blender once cooled slightly, combine until smooth and then you can refridgerate or freeze to use when you need it for a recipe.
Mini Pumpkin Bowls
Mini pumpkins are just as yummy as big pumpkins and apart from looking ridiculously adorable, they are fun to use too as vessels for your food. Chop them up and roast them alongside other veg or scoop out the insides and stuff them or fill them with soup. Either bake as they are or cut the lids off, scoop out the seeds (save for later!) and bake with the lids on. Different coloured pumpkins will roast quicker than others I find, use a knife to see if they are cooked and soft. Find a recipe to bake your mini pumpkins here.
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin soup is so delicious and if you batch cook a load of puree, you can whip up a pumpkin soup really easily. I made a really nice spicy pumpkin soup to put in my mini pumpkins after I baked them, although I went a bit overboard with chilli which I don’t recommend unless you like a lot of spice! Make sure you fill your soup in your pumpkin bowl when it’s still warm and serve with some cream and some fresh parsley. Try this spiced pumpkin recipe here.
Pumpkin bread is great with a bit of afternoon tea now the weather is turning, did you know it’s actually a cake? The first time I went to make pumpkin bread I thought it was more of a savoury bread but it’s traditionally really sweet and baked similar to banana bread. Once baked, you can then drizzle cinnamon icing sugar and some sugared pumpkin seeds on the top for that little bit extra. Find this yummy pumpkin bread recipe here.
Pumpkin Pie is probably the most well known dish to make with pumpkins and probably the most delicious in my opinion. Pumpkin pie isn’t very common in the UK and it tastes surprisingly different to what you might think despite having so much pumpkin in it. It’s basically custard tart with a bit of spice (a lot in my case!). This is such a tasty treat served warm with a bit of ice cream or squirty cream. Make sure you learn how to blind bake a crust and not to take shortcuts, you will regret it when your pie fails like my first blind bake. Play around with different designs including braiding to make your pie that little bit fancier. Try this Pumpkin Pie recipe here.
Pumpkin seeds are the most delicious snack and they tend to go to waste after carving, so don’t chuck them away before trying them toasted. I love using the seeds to snack on or chucking them in a salad but you can literally put them on anything. You can make them sweet with cinnamon and sugar or savoury with a bit of cajun spice or simply salt and pepper. I recommend you dry out your seeds for a good 12-24 hours to make sure they aren’t still soggy when you toast them. Find our how to toast your pumpkin seeds here.
Go Get Those Pumpkins
I have never done so much with pumpkins, and I thought the family would be tired of it by now but that’s just how great pumpkins are. They taste completely different in every dish. The pumpkin pie was definitely a hit in this house and has now been requested that I make it every year! Other pumpkin recipes we are going to try before the season is out, will be using our bigger pumpkins to make a cheesy fondue and making a lovely campfire pumpkin stew for Halloween. Now go get your pumpkins, save them from being binned, chop them up and create some awesome tasty dishes for all the family.
Have a Happy Halloween everyone!
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