It’s that spooky time of year again when we decorate our homes with skeletons and take to the streets as monsters looking for sweets in the night. The real horror of this scary holiday is the leftover pumpkin that is wasted every single year. Did you know that in the UK 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin is wasted every Halloween – that’s enough to make 360 million portions of delicious pumpkin pie! We’ve put some recipes together to help you say goodbye to food waste this Halloween with Open Kitchen MCR.
Don’t just bin it! Composting is the best way to get rid of any excess pumpkin that you can’t eat. Pumpkins can be added to your compost bin, however, as they’re classified as ‘greens’ (being high in nitrogen) they should be covered or mixed with a layer of ‘browns’, such as dry leaves, shredded paper or cardboard to maintain the balance, discourage flies and other pests. Try cutting up your pumpkin into smaller pieces to speed up the composting process, especially the thicker rid which takes longer to break down. TIP: Remember to remove any decorations and candles from jack-o-lanterns before composting.
The classic pumpkin pie
A well-loved dish is the classic pumpkin pie.
750g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
350g sweet shortcrust pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
140g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
25g butter, melted
Place pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain pumpkin and let cool.
Heat oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas 4.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins.
Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Increase oven to 220C / 200C fan / gas 7.
Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten effs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine.
Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C / 160C fan / gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.
Pumpkin & chickpea curry
1 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp Thai yellow curry paste, or vegetarian alternative
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large stalks lemongrass, bashed with the back of a knife
6 cardamon pods
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 piece pumpkin or a small squash (roughly 1kg)
250ml vegetable stock
400ml can reduced-fat coconut milk
400g can chickpea, drained and rinsed
Large handful mint leaves
Heat the oil in a sauté pan, gently fry the curry paste with the onions, lemongrass, cardamon and mustard seed for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
Stir the pumpkin or squash into the pan and coat in the paste, then pour in the stock and coconut milk.
Bring everything to simmer, add the chickpeas, then cook for about 10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
(The curry can now be cooled and frozen for up to 1 month!)
Squeeze the juice of one lime into the curry, then cut the other lime into wedges to serve alongside.
Before serving, tear over mint leaves, then bring to the table with the lime wedges and warm naan breads.