After every Halloween, around 14 million edible pumpkins end up in the bin in the UK – and that’s partly because most supermarket pumpkins are chosen for their size and shape, not their flavour or nutritional value.
For a more sustainable Halloween, you can make an effort to eat at least some of your pumpkin leftovers. I’ve shared some simple recipes for roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup and pumpkin puree hummus on my sustainable food blog, hungrycityhippy.co.uk.
Even better again, you could simply choose a squash or a pumpkin that has been grown for flavour instead of appearance; here Owen Morgan from the 44 Group has shared some of his top tips on the best squash varieties to look out for.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PUMPKIN
OWEN MORGAN, DIRECTOR AT THE 44 GROUP
“Nowadays, there is such a wide variety of edible Autumn pumpkin and squashes, so at the start of the season we always ask for as many different types to come into both Asador 44 and Bar 44 as possible; this is so that our team can get to know about best uses and properties of each. Pumpkins vary hugely in water content, density and natural sweetness – and not just in shape and size!
Crown Prince Squashes, for example, are big and fairly uniformly round (so very easy to work with) but they also provide a wonderfully nutty flavour and firm texture. They grill so well on the fire at Asador 44, or we wedge and roast them in Bar 44.
Acorn Squashes are much smaller but can be excellent baked whole and scooped out; whilst the Delicta Squash is a big favourite and has quite a thin skin – so you don’t necessarily need to peel it. It’s also really sweet and makes an incredible purée, which you can use for so many things – sweet or savoury.
Though not really seen at Halloween, everyone knows the Butternut Squash and these are just so versatile. We often make sweet tarts using butternut squash, but they are just as delicious when used in a slow cooked braise.”
TRY IT AT HOME: BAR 44’s ROAST PUMPKIN WITH CRISPY KALE, CHESTNUT & SAGE PESTO
● 1-1.5kg pumpkin or squash
● Light olive oil for roasting
● 200g Cavolo Nero or kale
● Sea salt
FOR THE PESTO
● 100g cooked chestnuts
● 2 garlic cloves, chopped
● 15 sage leaves
● Large handful of flat-leaf parsley
● Large handful of rocket
● 50ml extra virgin olive oil
● 7Sml light olive oil
● Juice of ½ lemon
● 50g cured Manchego or aged Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200° Fan/Gas mark 7.
2. Peel the pumpkin or squash, cut in half lengthways, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the flesh into chunky wedges, about 10-12 cm long and place in a large bowl. Add some olive oil and 2 large pinches of sea salt and toss well to coat. Transfer to a roasting tray and place in the oven for 40 minutes, turning once, until caramelised and softened.
3. Tear or slice the kale leaves off the main stalks, keeping the pieces quite big. Place in a large bowl, add some light olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and toss well to coat. Transfer to another roasting tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until crisp and drying out. Set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
4. To make the pesto, place all the ingredients for it (except the cheese) in a food processor or blender and blitz to a slightly coarse purée.
5. Transfer it to a bowl, stir in the cheese and season to taste.
6. Serve the roast pumpkin or squash with the pesto spooned over generously and pieces of the crispy kale alongside.
Recipe from Tapas Y Copas: This is Our Spain, available from mercado44.grupo44.co.uk. By Jane Cook, Freelance PR Consultant, specialising in hospitality and sustainability.