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It’s that time of year again when a lot of excess pumpkin is left over in kitchens all over the UK. Restaurants may want to make the most of the time of year and show case the pumpkin, but sometimes it’s easy to run out of creative ideas for what do with it, so I thought I would post a few hints and tips and pumpkin info for a bit of inspiration:

Hints and tips:

  • When roasting leave the pumpkin on the skin.  The skin is edible, but if you don’t feel like eating it, it’s much easier to peel once the pumpkin is cooked
  • If you want to cook your pumpkin for a soup, sauce or puree, wrap in tinfoil or parchment paper when roasting.  This will keep it moist and retain its yield.
  • All pumpkin seeds are edible and highly nutritious. For a snack, dry the seeds on paper towels then toss 2 cups of seeds with 2 tbsp of olive oil and sea salt and then roast until dry and golden.
  • Pumpkin goes well with coriander, sage, thyme and rosemary, crumbled blue cheese, ricotta or goat’s cheese, shavings of Parmesan, and cured meats.
  • In sweet dishes, try pumpkin with brown sugar, maple syrup, grated lemon or orange rind, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and cloves.

Around the world in pumpkins

Greece – pumpkins are made into preserves and used for filling pies.
Mediterranean and Middle East – here pumpkins are popular as a filling for filo pies, or paired in stews and soups with pulses and aromatic spices.
Italy – we love to use pumpkins as a ravioli filling, or my favourite would be to fill gnocchi.
France – in true purist style, the French do little with pumpkins, other than perhaps to use them in soups and breads.
South East Asia – here they use the tender young leaves in stews and the flesh in soups and curries.

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Pumpkin best served ice cold!

I must admit I was prompted to write this post after carving a pumpkin with my son Simone at the weekend. On thinking about what to do with the flesh, my sweet toothed son said he wanted to make ice cream, so I decided to capitalise on the sweet tasting qualities of the fruit and give pumpkin ice cream a go.

Pumpkin ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 500g pumpkin
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Merchant Gourmet Pumpkin seed oil
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Split the pumpkin in half from top to bottom, using a large cleaver and a mallet. Scoop out the seeds and fibre with a large metal spoon. Reserve seeds for later.
    Lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast until a knife can be easily removed from the pumpkin when inserted.
  2. Take out of the oven and cool the pumpkin for 1 hour.
  3. Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients, leaving out the pumpkin seed oil and salt, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the cylinder of ice cream maker two-thirds full; freeze according to directions.
  5. Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze. Transfer to a freezer container and freeze for 2-4 hours before serving.
  6. Roast the remaining pumpkin seeds in a dash of pumpkin seed oil and salt and sprinkle over the ice cream and serve
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