There is just something about pumpkins. They are the vegetable garden’s drama queens, sprawling rampantly across the ground or climbing up a trellis with big flouncy flowers followed by the plumptious abundance of their fruit and the glory of their autumn colours, I can’t resist them! They mustn’t just be confined to soup with the jack o lantern leftovers, their flavour must be celebrated with pies, roulades, curries and flavoursome stews, they can appear as gnocchi or in pasta purses, roasted with herbs or mashed with spices. The pumpkin is a versatile fruit – here are a few pumpkin recipes to get your taste buds tingling.
I love making gnocchi, it’s a ‘get your hands in’ dish where I feel good because I have made it from scratch and – you know what? – it’s not that complicated! Gnocchi is one of my favourite autumn comfort foods whether it’s made from potatoes, semolina or pumpkins, here I’ve married it with mushrooms, a sage and mustard cream and a little wilted spinach, delicious.
A delicious autumnal evening supper or light lunch using seasonal produce. Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main
500g pumpkin (peeled and deseeded)
1-2 tbsps chilli oil (or regular olive oil)
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper
100g finely grated vegetarian parmesan
100g plain flour
Rice flour for dusting
250ml single cream
100ml white wine
250g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced (if you can get wild mushrooms such as chanterelles then pop some in too, this dish will be all the better for them!)
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp finely chopped fresh sage (or a pinch of dried)
salt and pepper to taste
200g washed fresh spinach
Preheat the oven to 200C
Chop the pumpkin into evenly sized chunks and roast in the chilli oil with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper until fork tender and browning
Allow to cool completely then mash until smooth but not soggy
While the pumpkin is cooling make your sauce
Gently fry the shallot in a little olive oil until translucent, add the mushrooms and fry until their juices are released, add the garlic and fry for a further minute.
Pour in the wine and allow to bubble briefly, add the cream, sage and mustard and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
Season the cooled pumpkin mash with salt and pepper then stir in half the flour and half the parmesan (reserve the rest of the cheese for later)
Add the rest of the flour gradually, mixing the mash by hand until you have a dough which is firm enough to roll into a soft sausage shape (try to use as little flour as possible so the pumpkin isn't diluted too much!)
Roll the dough into sausage shapes about the thickness of your thumb and slice into 2cm lengths
Toss the gnocchi in rice flour to stop them sticking to each other and bring a large pan of water to the boil
Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, when they bob up to the surface, they are cooked
Remove with a slotted spoon and pop under a hot grill for a few moments until just browning slightly
Meanwhile wilt the spinach in hot water quickly and drain and reheat your sauce
Share the gnocchi evenly between two (or four) plates, pour the sauce over and around, top with spinach and the reserved parmesan.
Pumpkin, Feta and Leek Pie
More comfort food, hurrah! I love the contrast between the sweet pumpkin and the salty feta in this dish which was inspired by a recipe in Denis Cotter’s Paradiso Seasons.
Salty feta and sweet pumpkin combined in a crisp filo shell make for a perfect Autumn pie
500g pumpkin peeled and deseeded (butternut squash also works really well)
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2tsps cumin seeds
¼ - ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
100g vegetarian feta cheese
50g chopped walnuts
100ml single cream
4 large sheets filo pastry
Chop the pumpkin into evenly sized chunks, toss in a little olive oil and roast in the oven at 200C until fork tender and beginning to brown
Fry the leeks in a little olive oil until soft
Add the garlic, cumin and chilli flakes and fry for a further minute, remove from the heat
Butter a 23cm spring form cake tin
Line roughly with a sheet of filo.
Brush the filo with melted butter and add another layer, repeat twice more, turning each sheet lightly each time so you have a rough bowl rather than a neat square
Spread the pumpkin and leeks evenly across the base of the filo lined tin
Crumble the feta over the vegetables and scatter the walnuts on top
Whisk the eggs and cream together, season with a little salt and pepper and pour into the tin
Fold the pastry roughly in on the pie and brush with more melted butter
Bake at 180C for 30-40 mins until the filling is set and the pastry crisp and golden
Leave to stand for ten minutes before removing the outside of the springform tin and slicing.
Delicious served with a good apple chutney, roasted potatoes and lightly steamed broccoli
For more pumpkin recipes and inspiration why not pop over to A Bavarian Sojourn and sample her pumpkin ravioli, while you’re there gasp at her fabulous photos of all things gourd-ious in Bavaria – they certainly know how to celebrate the squash season!