Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Pumpkin Recipe Roundup

I was seriously unprepared for the whole Jack-o-Lantern carving thing. 
What a novice error.

Nelle had a friend over for a play afterschool, and I had visions of all of us carving pumpkins together - a real group activity. (Good mommy, and all that). The girls drew practice faces on scrap paper - they were so excited - and then set to work drawing with pencils, then markers, on the pumpkins themselves. Easy peasy. The whole face-drawing process took about ... 5 minutes.

And then, it was time for carving. And I was on my own.

The girls ran off to play with Barbies while I set to work with a paring knife and a heavy steel spoon. They came back periodically to check on my progress, ooh-ing and ah-ing at the masses of seed and flesh that was accumulating in the dish before me.

"Good work, Mum!"
Yeah, kid. Great.

how to eat Jackolantern carvings

By the end of one pumpkin, I'd felt like Jillian Michaels had just attacked my arm with her fists (like I swear she does in this workout) ... and I still had a second pumpkin to go. The only thing that got me through was the realisation that I was a) sending home pumpkin #2 unfinished (sorry Wendy!) and b) there was NO WAY IN HELL I was throwing out the scooped-out pumpkin innards.

Or die trying.

A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions - Halloween pumpkins are perfectly, cheaply edible ... they're just a lot of work! But if you're carving one or two or more anyway, it makes sense to use up the nutritious centres that you'd otherwise throw away. On Facebook, you told me that you use pumpkin carvings in dishes from curry to muffins to cheesecake, which only goes to show that I really underestimated Halloween pumpkins as food. And also, I need some local friends to make me cheesecake (Jennifer, Lesley - why do you live so far away?)

So what do you do with Halloween pumpkin carvings? 
I used mine in 3 different ways:
  1. I roasted (and devoured) the seeds.
  2. I made a pumpkin and shittake stew, which then became lasagne.
  3. I made pumpkin puree, which found its way into muffins (and, temporarily, my fridge).

NOTE: If you aren't actually Jack-o-Lanterning your pumpkin, you could cut and roast it like you would a butternut squash .. but if you're drawing on it, and filling it with waxy candles, and leaving it out of the fridge and on your porch for extended periods, it's better not to eat the shell part. Stick with cooking up the insides as you carve them out.

Halloween pumpkin recipe

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
The time
20-25 min roasting

The ingredients + process
1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). You want to cook these hot and fast, not dehydrate them. (I have learned this difference the hard way)

2. Wash and pat dry the pumpkin seeds and remove as much of the extra pumpkin flesh as possible. (It's ok if you don't get it all)

3. Toss each cup of pumpkin seeds, in 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil) and 1/4 -1/2 tsp sea salt (depending on how salty you like them).

4. Spread the seeds across a parchment-covered baking sheet so they (ideally) aren't touching each other too much.

DIY roasted pumpkin seeds

5. Roast for 20-25 minutes,  stirring them up after 10 min. And again 10 min later. And then (if needed) put the seeds back in the oven for up to 5 min more. When done, they should be golden and dry. Remove from the tray and put into a dish lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil (or else they'll reabsorb it and become soggy).

And dig in. These things are super-amazing good for you.

DIY pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin and Shittake Stew
serves 3-4 as a side, double if serving as mains or using extra in lasagne

The time
5-10 min prep + 30 min cooking 

The ingredients
1 onion, minced
2 Tbs butter (one at a time)
1 cup sliced shittake mushrooms (or a mix)
4-6 cups pumpkin (scraped flesh from ~1 medium Jack-o-Lantern)
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

The process
1. In a heavy stew pot, soften the onion in 1 Tbs butter over medium heat. When translucent, add the mushrooms and the 2nd Tbs butter.

2. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the pumpkin with a nice dash of salt and pepper. Saute till soft, breaking up clumps of pumpkin as it cooks.

3. Serve as a side dish, or with rice for a main. Extras are perfect in the lasagne below!

Jack o Lantern lasagne  

Halloween Pumpkin Lasagne
serves 6-8

The time
20 min prep + 60 min baking + 10-15 min cool-down

The ingredients
1 x 700 g jar of passata (or your favourite pasta sauce)
1 x 375 g package of wholewheat dry lasagne noodles
3 cups stewed Halloween pumpkin (see above)
700 g ricotta*
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (or pizza mix)

*If you use cottage cheese instead, add an egg to it. Cottage cheese has a higher water content that can make your lasagne soupy.

my favourite lasagne recipe

The process
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (360F).

2. In a 9x13" glass or ceramic baking dish, layer in this order:

1 cup pasta sauce, evenly spread across the whole bottom of the baking dish
a single layer of uncooked lasagne noodles
3 cups stewed pumpkin, evenly spread
a single layer of uncooked lasagne noodles
1 cup pasta sauce, evenly spread
2 cups ricotta, evenly spread if possible (dolloped is fine)
a single layer of uncooked lasagne noodles
1 cup pasta sauce, evenly spread (add a little water to the jar and shake to get the rest out)
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

NOTE: When making lasagne, make sure the dry noodles are completely covered with a thick liquid of some sort (too thin, and it'll be runny) and insulate with foil for the main part of cooking.

3. Cover with foil and bake at 360 for 45 min. Then uncover and cook an additional 15 min. Set aside 10-15 min before serving. 

This lasagne is so easy, and I can't get enough of it!
Tomorrow I'm seriously topping a slice with fried egg for breakfast.

thrifty pumpkin puree

Pumpkin Puree

The ingredients and process
For every cup of pumpkin flesh, add 1/3 cup water and simmer over low heat until soft (about 20 min). Set aside, and when cool - blend.

Use your pumpkin puree in:
muffins or a huge baked pancake (Dutch baby)
or hot chocolate or popsicles (depending on the weather)
or soup with miso or cashew butter
or chocolate cake
or my all-time favourite curry (from Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef )
or sub it in for zucchini in this cake-like smoothie

As someone very clever recently said: "the possibilities are endless" :)

For extra
Freeze puree in ice cube trays and store in airtight containers in the freezer until you need them.

I hope I've inspired you to save those pumpkin trimmings this year - and maybe even to go out and buy pumpkins when they go on MEGA sale after Halloween. (Remember, you don't have to carve them - you can just roast them like butternut squash - try this risotto if you do)

So get out there and enjoy all that pumpkin carving! It's totally worth it, trust me - and not just for the food part. Nelle *loves* her special jack-o-lantern :)
Happy Halloween 
Amanda xx

Want more Halloween-y recipes? Check all these great Food Network #FallFest blogs out for inspiration! 

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links to - where all prices are the same for you (except I get a small commission on anything you buy while there). My commission goes straight back into improving this site, usually via books :)


wendy hill said... [Reply to comment]

These recipes look amazing. We're thankful for the pumpkin that you cleaned out for Aubrey. Her father carved a cat into it and it sat proudly at the pumpkin walk. It is now sitting on our porch.

Amanda Niehaus said... [Reply to comment]

@wendy hill It was absolutely my pleasure - besides, wait till you see my biceps haha :) Guess we all have some work to do getting ready for Barbie o' Lanterns next year ...

jen @ hello great health said... [Reply to comment]

i love roasting the pumpkin seeds! i am going to try this. but first i'm going to pin it!
jen x

Amanda Niehaus said... [Reply to comment]

@jen @ hello great health I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds ... especially "free" ones ;)

Amanda F said... [Reply to comment]

With the pumpkin puree how would you utilize it in recipes that call for canned puree? Did you find it to be equivalent? I have so many recipes and would love to use the pumpkin scraps if possible. Thank you

Amanda Niehaus said... [Reply to comment]

@Amanda F Hi Amanda - homemade pumpkin puree will be more watery than canned, (also better for you and fresher-tasting :) ) especially as we added some water in cooking.

But wateriness is easy to fix - just strain your puree through cheesecloth until it reaches the thickness you like. Then it should work just like the canned stuff!

Saying that - I never buy canned pumpkin (it's not common in Australia), so I've not directly compared the two ... but I think you've just given me a great idea for a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie comparison. And - importantly - an excuse to make 2 pies this year ;)

Thanks! xx

Hannah said... [Reply to comment]

So industrious, you really used up the whole pumpkin! And on top of that, everything looks freaking delicious!

Paula said... [Reply to comment]

Cutest little fairy ever! Your time and efforts carving the pumpkins were not wasted, that's for sure. All your recipes/dishes look wonderful and the roasted seeds are a great treat. Love your carved pumpkin by the way...very detailed mouth.

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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx

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