It doesn’t take much pumpkin to constitute a pumpkin glut. I have just one this year, but, at 6kg, one is plenty thank you. I confess I didn’t grow it myself. (Come on, of course I didn’t. Do you imagine I’d be nearly so nonchalant about its staggering weight if I’d nurtured it to 6kg myself!) It’s an heirloom variety called Rouge Vif d’Etempes and was grown by more skilled hands than mine. They’re a good doer this variety: tasty (not like the watery, sweet sickly things you buy to carve from the supermarket), big and the best bit is that they turn orange when they’re quite small so you can stagger the harvest. Other pumpkins remain an obstinate, and inedible, green until they are fully grown.
Once peeled and de-seeded, my 6kg darling yields around 4kg of flesh. Perfect for big batch cooking. Rather like any of the recipes below:
Pumpkin and Sage Risotto
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 3 big handfuls of pumpkin, cubed
- A glug and a glass of white wine
- 175g risotto rice
- parmesan, to taste
- 5 sage leaves
- Knob of butter
Heat a slug of oil in a large pan and thinly slice the sage leaves into threads. Add the cubed pumpkin, sage leaves and garlic to the oil and fry gently, coating the pumpkin in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add a good glug of white wine and an equal amount of water (it should barely cover the pumpkin), bring to a simmer and cook until the pumpkin is tender before removing from the heat.
Take out a third of the cubed pumpkin and set aside. Use a stick blender to blend the remaining pumpkin to a thick puree in the pan – we’ll return to it later.
In another pan, this time large and shallow, get the risotto rice going. At the same time boil the kettle. Heat another glug of oil and add the risotto rice, stirring so all the rice is coated in the oil. Once the rice starts popping, add a (small) glass of white wine and boil off the alcohol. Next, start gradually adding a little of the water and a little of the puree to the rice, stirring until the liquid is soaked up before adding the next batch of water and puree. There’s a certain art to making risotto and I think the best description of the principle is here.
Once your rice is al dente, add the remaining pumpkin, parmesan, seasoning and butter and fold in gently.
Serves 2 gluttons
This is me in Thrift Mode. Split peas were always a sign of austerity in my household as a child and somehow the association’s stuck. True, the ingredients list is short and humble, but the taste is rich and warming.
- 2 handfuls of yellow split peas
- 2 handfuls of pumpkin, cubed
- 1 onion
- 2 tsp garam masala powder (cheating? Moi?)
- Plain yogurt
- A few leaves of coriander
Slice the onion and sweat it in a little oil until soft. Add the garam masala and fry for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin and, after a few minutes, pop in the lentils and enough water to just cover the lentils (remember: if it gets dry you can always add more, but you can’t take it out). Clamp on a lid and leave for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are well cooked. Check for seasoning and serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling or coriander.
Sounds down right peculiar. But when you think about it, it’s not that different from carrot cake – just another sweet, orange, moist veg. This is a corker for bonfire night thanks to its delicious autumnal spice.
Recipe and instructions are based on this recipe, but are written far more charmingly (chalkboards – instant quaintness) below because I made it for tasters at work: