If you’re planning on prepping a jack-o’-lantern to flicker away spookily on Halloween, don’t even think about letting any of the scooped-out flesh go to waste. Our quick and easy ideas make use of the entire vegetable and offer a welcome change to pumpkin soup.
Sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds
Irresistibly moreish, these candied seeds are the ideal Halloween night nibble (accompanying cup of witch’s brew optional).
Wash and dry the pumpkin seeds, removing as much flesh as possible. Weigh the seeds, tip into a bowl and add enough nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts and shelled pistachios all work well) to bring the total weight to 300 grams.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Stir together one tablespoon brown sugar, one tablespoon of white sugar, one teaspoon of smoked paprika, one teaspoon of flaked salt and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. Add a whisked egg white, then the nuts and seeds and mix well.
Spread out on a large baking tray lined with baking paper and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring through a handful of raisins when 10 minutes of cooking time remains. Leave to cool, then break into pieces to serve.
Pumpkin salt popcorn
Munch on pumpkin salt popcorn while watching a scary movie, then use the extra salt to add umami-rich flavour to all manner of dishes. It makes for a fantastic dry rub for meat, fish or roasted vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Spread the pumpkin innards – core, stringy flesh and all – out on a large baking tray lined with baking paper and roast for 90 minutes or until the flesh has completely dried out and is starting to brown. Leave to cool, then tip into a blender and blitz with an equal quantity of sea salt.
Prepare your popcorn according to pack instructions. While still warm, drizzle with melted butter and scatter lightly with the pumpkin salt. Mix well and serve accompanied by a horror movie or two.
The most delicious, seasonally appropriate thing to spread on toast, this can be folded through yoghurt, added to an acai bowl or drizzled over pancakes.
Dice and deseed the pumpkin flesh into even-sized cubes of about 2.5 centimetres each. Cook in a steamer or colander set over a pan of simmering water for 10 to 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.
Tip the pumpkin puree into a heavy-based saucepan, along with a sprinkling each of ground cinnamon, ginger and allspice, a generous drizzle of maple syrup or honey and a splash of water. Set the pan over a medium heat, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often (you don’t want the mixture to catch), until deep brown and starting to caramelise. Remove from the heat and add more spices or syrup to taste. Leave to cool completely, then store in the fridge.
Pumpkin, kale, pomegranate and feta salad
Healthy, wholesome, bright, colourful and packed with texture and flavour, this salad is great on its own, served as an accompaniment to roast chicken or spooned over rice, quinoa or couscous.
Toss 400 grams of diced pumpkin flesh with two tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and black pepper. Tip on to a large baking tray lined with baking paper and roast in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes.
Whisk together two tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of runny honey, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. Tear 150 grams of kale leaves into pieces, removing and discarding the stem. Tip into a bowl and drizzle over half the dressing. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the kale to soften.
Toss the roasted pumpkin with the kale leaves and half a thinly sliced red onion. Arrange on a serving plate and top with crumbled feta, pomegranate seeds and a handful of sweet spiced nuts and seeds if you happen to have made them from this list. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.
Roasted pumpkin avocado toast with eggs and chilli sauce
This recipe gives everyone’s favourite brunch dish an easy update with pleasing results.
Follow the method above for roasting the pumpkin flesh, adding a sprinkling of chilli flakes at the same time as the olive oil. Once cooked, leave the pumpkin to cool slightly, then mash roughly with a fork.
Spread the pumpkin over freshly toasted sourdough bread, top with sliced avocado, eggs that have been poached (or fried) to your liking, a handful of chopped herbs and a generous drizzle of chilli sauce.
Finally, if you’re still keen on that old faithful pumpkin soup, roast the diced flesh in the oven with cumin seeds and curry powder, then blitz with hot stock and a swirl of cream until smooth and silky for best results.