Often wonder what to do with leftover pumpkin guts post-carving? From fritti to gratin, here’s how you can make the most of those deliciously versatile insides.
Carve your pumpkin, but don’t ditch the innards!
Halloween is around the corner and we want to give the humble pumpkin the makeover it deserves. Something like 18,000 tonnes of the stuff gets binned every year as ghoulish faces are carved and the innards thrown out, but what a waste! We’ve put together a list of pumpkin recipe ideas to give your squash a new lease of life.
It starts with what you buy. Pumpkin is just one of a whole variety of winter squash that come in all shapes, sizes and colours, from Crown Prince to onion squash. Try mixing and matching for an eclectic window decoration, then transform the sweet flesh into one of these frighteningly flavoursome ideas…
Keep the seeds!
Squash seeds need never be wasted, especially when it’s so easy to transform them into a tasty snack. Rinse your seeds, pat them dry with a tea towel, toss through warming spices, salt or sugar, then throw them in a low or cooling oven – about 100ºC – to dry out. Bashed fennel seeds, dried chilli and salt, cinnamon and sugar, garam masala or cumin seeds are tasty additions; eat them as a snack or throw them into salads for added crunch.
Trick or pumpkin treat
Make double use of your ghoulish pumpkin and save the flesh for a party nibble. Try pumpkin fritti – the Italian excuse for deep-frying everything – by cutting the pumpkin flesh into pieces (any size will do as long as you keep them fairly thin), then dip them in batter and fry in plenty of oil until golden. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve hot with gratings of Parmesan and lots of sea salt. For extra-light, crisp results, whisk a couple of egg whites into the batter just before cooking, or spice it up with cinnamon, chilli flakes or even orange zest.
Odds and ends
Whatever you’re left with after carving your pumpkin, the odds and ends will make the perfect hash. Chop the flesh up into rough pieces, then add to a pan with browning streaky bacon and onion, and leave it to soften. Sliced apples or other root veg are worth adding too, before finishing it off with crispy sage, a crumbling of blue cheese, sliced fresh chilli or a fried egg on top.
Dolloped and fried
Whether Sunday pancakes or a quick vegetable fritter, the free-spirited pumpkin is willing to adapt. For pancakes, steam or boil the offcuts, steam-dry and mash, then combine with milk, flour, eggs and your favourite spices. For sweet, try cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest or for savoury, add chilli and finely chopped herbs. Dollop, fry and eat with a good drizzle of honey or a grating of cheese.
For simple veggie fritters, grate up raw squash with other hard vegetables, like beets, carrots or courgettes, combine with beaten egg, a little flour, chopped herbs and a crumbling of feta. Dollop and fry in a pan, then enjoy straight up with a smidge of chilli sauce.
The squash family lends itself to a comforting autumn bake, which – given it’s Halloween – works out well. Chop the flesh into a gratin with plenty of garlic, rosemary, breadcrumbs and cheese, or mash the cooked flesh and use it either as an extra layer to a bubbling lasagne or to top a warming cottage pie. Alternatively, just keep it simple; bake the flesh in savoury pie, or just as it is with spices, like cumin or coriander seeds or chilli flakes, sea salt and olive oil, then use it in the days to come mashed onto hot toasts, tossed through a grain salad or blitzed into hummus.
Pumpkin purée might be sold in a can, but there’s no reason not to make it yourself. Steam the flesh, then whiz it up in a blender with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground ginger and a little sugar until super smooth. Use it to make these spiced honey cakes or – in true American style – to fill a pumpkin pie after draining in muslin, or ditch the hot chocolate for a sweet and spiced chai latté.
Winter squash is a versatile veg so don’t stop there. Throw it into soups and coconut curries – squash is particularly good with root ginger and chilli – or mash it up with ricotta for a ravioli filling or simply as a side to your favourite bangers.