By Rowena Taylor
Every year for Halloween, one of my favourite things to do is pumpkin carving. It’s a great activity for all ages, and whether you do it with friends or family, it is always enjoyable. However, the statistics for pumpkin waste are more terrifying than all the Halloween zombies, ghouls and witches put together; in 2019, 8 million pumpkins ended up in landfill.
The size of this fruit (yes, fruit) can perhaps be quite overwhelming, but the number of potential dishes and the sheer volume of food you can get from one large pumpkin, should be enough to convince the world to eat pumpkin!
The first parts of the pumpkin to save are the seeds. When you carved your pumpkin, you will have scooped out these seeds before creating your masterpiece, and if you saved them, they can become a super-tasty, crunchy treat: After washing the seeds and patting them dry with a kitchen towel, I sprinkled on some paprika and curry powder, added a drizzle of olive oil, and roasted them in the oven at 180 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes. They were just started to pop when I took them out, and after sprinkling them with a little salt, I couldn’t stop munching!
My flat ended up with two pumpkins this year, so I decided to make two dishes. After consulting various recipes, I decided on a pumpkin soup, and some pumpkin muffins. The first step for these dishes – and in fact any pumpkin dish – is peeling and chopping the pumpkin. This does take a bit of time, but I found that peeling with a knife (chopping down and away from yourself) speeds things up a bit.
To make the soup, roast your chopped and peeled pumpkin with a drizzle of oil in the oven at 200 degrees C for 30 – 40 minutes or until soft. Depending on how much space you have in your oven, you can use a whole, or half a pumpkin (I used half, and froze the rest for a future soup). Once that’s cooked, add one large onion to a pan, cook until soft, then add 2 cloves of garlic and a generous thumb of ginger (both minced) to the pan and cook for another minute. Add in the pumpkin to the pan, then pour in some vegetable stock to mostly cover the pumpkin. The more stock you add, the thinner the soup will be, so ere on the side of caution as you can always add more liquid later. Once you have brought everything to the boil, blend with a hand blender if possible and season to taste.
I decided to puree my second pumpkin, as it then can be used to make muffins, as well as other dishes if I have any leftover. You can also freeze the pureed pumpkin if you don’t want to use it straight away. It’s very simple to make; all you have to do is steam the pumpkin for about 10 minutes (or until soft) and then mash it, and there you have it.