Brits increasingly embrace the American Halloween traditions but are missing out one crucial aspect of the festivities, according to food waste charity Hubbub. While we are usually better at reducing the amount of waste we produce, we seem to have a blind spot when it comes to that Jack O’Lantern.
Pumpkins are now a familiar sight in the British supermarket at this time of year, but it seems around two-thirds of us regard them as a novelty rather than a food. Hubbub’s research suggests 18000 tons of pumpkin flesh is simply thrown away in the UK. Decomposing food waste contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, so this obvious waste is also actively damaging the environment.
In the US, pumpkin flesh is used to make sweet pies, so the flesh of the seasonally carved pumpkin is regarded as an opportunity for a festive treat. We’ve found a couple of simple savoury recipes that may help you to introduce your British palate to the delights of this underused vegetable.
Pumpkin soup (serves two):
700 g roughly chopped pumpkin flesh
1 chopped onion
25 g butter or margarine
275 ml cream or milk
275 ml stock
In a deep saucepan, melt the fat on a medium heat. Add the onion and stir until soft. Stir in the pumpkin flesh and season with salt and pepper.
Sweat the onion and pumpkin over a lower heat for about 10 minutes, then add the cream or milk, cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes
Use a hand blender to puree the mixture, leaving a bit of texture. Serve hot.
Fruity winter curry (serves four)
Flesh of half a pumpkin, cubed
4 carrots and 2 parsnips, cut into batons
8 large ripe tomatoes
2 thinly sliced onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
200 ml water
3 tbsp curry paste
6 peeled garlic cloves
A thumb-sized knob of root ginger, peeled and chopped
200 g brown basmati rice
6 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt
100g mangoes, cut into cubes
1 tbsp mango chutney
Fresh coriander, chopped
Toasted, flaked almonds
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook until soft. Stir in pumpkin, carrots and parsnips, and cook until they begin to soften. Add in the curry paste and cook for a further 3 mins.
Blend six of the tomatoes with the garlic and ginger until smooth. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and add the water. Stir in the coriander, saving a handful for garnish. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 40 mins), then cut the remaining tomatoes into wedges and stir them in.
Reduce to thicken the sauce.
Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet.
Stir the yogurt, mango and chutney together in a small bowl.
Serve the curry over the rice and scattered with coriander and almonds, with the fruity yogurt on the side.
Let us know how you get on! What’s your favourite pumpkin recipe?