Sunday, 18 October 2009

October Means Pumpkins!

One of my favourite things about October is--you guessed it--pumpkins! I love them. They look so autumnal, you can carve them for Halloween, and, best of all, you can eat them! During October I tend to use a little pumpkin in almost everything I cook.

This particular pumpkin is from my garden. It's vine shrivelled up and died, so we had to pick it a bit early. It's a variety that is white when fully ripe, and never grows very big. Unfortunately, it never completely ripened, but it was still delicious.

Here's my first pumpkin recipe for this autumn.

Pumpkin Lasagna

Pumpkin is delicious in lasagna. Make lasagna as usual, but add an extra pumpkin layer, or use this to replace the cheesey layer of lasagna.

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Peel and core pumpkin (remember to keep and bake the seeds!). Dice the pumpkin. Put on a large baking sheet.

I liberally sprinkled it with chillies. I LOVE The English Provender Co. Very Lazy Red Chillies. They have a rich, almost sweet flavour as well as adding some warmth and spice. I spooned it over the pumpkin, including some of the liquid from the jar. I also added ground black pepper. Then use an olive oil spray to coat the pumpkin evenly, and then drizzle lightly with some good olive oil.

Bake 20 to 45 minutes depending on how ripe the pumpkin is and how big the pieces are. When it is finished, it should be cooked through and slice easily.

Mush the pumpkin. I used a hand blender, but you could also use a potato masher or food processor.

For a super super easy, but delicious pumpkin cheese lasagna layer, mix the pumpkin puree with creme fraiche (I used low fat and it still turned out delicious). Season to taste with more red chillies, salt and pepper, etc. I added a spoonful of wholegrain English mustard as well. It wasn't enough to make it taste mustardy, just to add a little edge to it.

Then use it as a lasagna layer, and cook lasagna as usual. I like mixing it with other flavours. For example, alternate pumpkin layers and traditional tomato sauce & mince layers (particularly good with grated courgette--zucchini--in it).

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