October 28, 2019 7:02 am Leave your thoughts
Getting ready for Hallowe’en? Bought your pumpkin(s) yet? If so, you may soon find yourself wrist-deep in a mass of orangey-yellow stringy pumpkin flesh and slimy seeds. It seems a waste to throw it away – but what can you do with it? Well, we’ve got some great tips and recipes, making use of all of the pumpkin: the guts, the flesh and the seeds. It’s not just a good way to avoid waste, but a wonderful addition to a Hallowe’en (or simply autumnal) menu. Pumpkins are worth celebrating – inside and out!
Buy the right pumpkin
Make sure you choose a pumpkin that’s really worth celebrating! The hugely swollen gourds that fill the discount baskets in the supermarkets may carve well, but there’s virtually no flesh inside them. Nevertheless, if that’s all you have, you can still use them in the recipes below, to delicious effect (you may just need more than one). If you’ve got more of a choice, however, we’d recommend going for a smaller, more slowly ripened pumpkin or squash, which will have more flesh and a better flavour.
Scoop it all out
Scoop out all of the insides, guts and all – and put everything in a bowl of water. Using your fingers, loosen the seeds from the fibrous insides and place them in a colander. Rinse them through again (don’t worry if they’ve still got a little bit of pumpkin sticking to them – this will come off when they’re baked). Set them aside on a clean tea-towel or piece of baking paper (don’t use paper towels, kitchen roll or similar, as they’ll stick to it horribly!).
If you’ve chosen well, you’ll have a pumpkin or squash with a fair amount of firm flesh still attached to the skin. Use a sharp knife to carve it out.
What to do with your guts
The best thing we know of to do with the fibrous inner guts of a pumpkin is to add them to homemade vegetable stock. You don’t even really need to separate out the seeds to do so. Mix with onions, celery, other leftover vegetables, herbs and seasoning and simmer gently – then freeze in small quantities until you need vegetable stock for a recipe.
What to do with your seeds
When your seeds are nicely dry, you can roast them. There are two main ways to do this: in the oven or in a frying pan.
If you’re using the oven method, then first toss the pumpkin seeds in olive oil and a flavouring of your choice, such as salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper or soy sauce. Roast in a medium-hot oven for about ten minutes.
If you’re using a frying pan, you don’t need to add any oil. Simply heat a large, heavy-bottomed, dry pan over a medium heat, then throw in the pumpkin seeds. Shake and stir them constantly to prevent burning. When the seeds begin to turn golden, start to pop open, and release their aroma, they’re done. At this point, you can toss them lightly in a flavouring, as above.
Seeds roasted like this are great to nibble warm (though do wait for them to cool down slightly!). They’re equally good stored in an airtight container and added to your morning cereal or taken to work as a snack the next day.
You might also like to try out one of these ideas:
- Toasted pumpkin seed and leek risotto
- Carrots with mint, parsley and pumpkin seed
- Pumpkin seed crunchy cereal
- Couscous, bean and pumpkin seed salad
What to do with your pumpkin flesh
With the pumpkin flesh, the sky’s the limit! Pumpkins work brilliantly in both sweet and savoury dishes and the internet is full of all manner of suggestions. Here are a few of our tried and tested favourites:
- Spicy, fruity pumpkin soup: serve it in some hollowed-out gourds for a wonderful Hallowe’en meal
- Pumpkin curry with chickpeas: with a Thai twist
- Pumpkin seed pesto: a delicious and economical way of making a great, nutty pesto
- Paleo pumpkin bread: you might not be eating grains, but this recipe still lets you have a slice of (sweet) bread!
- Pumpkin, white bean and bacon bake: a great savoury option
- Sweet pumpkin pie recipe: former President Obama’s favourite
- Pumpkin scones and sponge: not a real recipe per se, but an interesting tip – add a handful of pumpkin flesh to a scone or sponge mixture, for an entertainingly bright yellow result!
Why bother eating your pumpkin? Because it’s a remarkably nutritious vegetable, that’s why! Its orange colour is one clue to its nutritional worth: it indicates a huge amount of beta-carotene. When we eat that, it’s converted to vitamin A in our bodies, which aids eye health. (A cup of cooked pumpkin apparently provides 200% of our recommended daily dose of vitamin A.)
Pumpkins are also top-notch for vitamin C and contain good amounts of vitamin E and some vitamin B-6. They’re a fine provider of potassium, which is important for reducing high blood pressure and aids muscle regeneration. They’ve also got riboflavin, copper, manganese, thiamine, folate, niacin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Full of antioxidants, they have anti-inflammatory properties and, finally, are a useful source of fibre.
Pumpkin seeds, meanwhile, boast a great range of nutrients too. There’s magnesium, for good heart health and blood pressure; zinc, for the immune system and reproductive health; protein; omega-3 fats; phytosterols; antioxidants; fibre; manganese and copper; and tryptophan, which is converted in our bodies to melatonin and serotonin, the hormones that relax us and keep us upbeat.
All in all, pumpkins are one of the most nutritious and wholly delicious vegetables around. And that’s why you always see them with a big grin on their faces!
Tags: Autumn, cayenne pepper, halloween, herbs, olive oil, organic pumpkin seed, organic pumpkinseed, pumpkin, pumpkin curry, pumpkin flesh, pumpkin guts, pumpkin inners, pumpkin insides, pumpkin pie, pumpkin recipes, pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin seed recipes, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup, pumpkinseed, salt, seasoning, soy sauce, squash
This post was written by Yzanne