DON’T BE SCARED OF DEVOURING YOUR PUMPKIN THIS HALLOWEEN
Up until a few years ago pumpkins were imported for Halloween but now we are producing our own in all shapes, colours and sizes. Pumpkin picking at a farm is a thing apparently. It’s ironic that they became associated with Samhain after the 19th century emigrant Irish could not find the traditionally used turnips to hollow out upon arrival in America in order to continue their all souls’ night tradition of scaring away the visiting spirits. Now we have plenty of turnips in Ireland but try carving out one of them, so pumpkins are here for good now. The origin of the word comes from old Greek and French words for melon, Pepon.
They are a squash of course and scientifically a fruit however as it has seeds and they have plenty of cousins in their varied family. The Americans use it as a the well known sweet pumpkin pie dessert for Thanksgiving and this was derived from old English dessert making styles using fruit filling for tarts. They are eaten all around the world of course, in soups and stews of various hues even as a bread in France and the toasted seeds are also eaten in many countries especially Hispanic ones as a snack or in salads. Pumpkin works great as a roast vegetable drizzled with a little honey. They are nutritious too, plenty of vitamins and iron, an anti oxidant and low in calories.
I recently just made a pumpkin skewer for a couple of vegetarian friends at dinner by blanching some one inch square chunks for a few minutes to slightly soften the flesh and keep the bright orange colour. Then I seasoned them with salt and some spices, arranged seven of them tightly on a wooden skewer, coated them in rapeseed oil and seared them on a hot skillet till they were caramelized and just cooked through then serving them with a flavoured cous cous and dressed leaves. All this in stark ethical contrast of course to the rare steaks being eaten by the rest of us.
So do not forget to keep your pumpkins this weekend after scooping them out, there are plenty of recipes online, every year I see them piled up in the bins or scattered across waste ground so do try not to throw out good food as there is no better feeling than getting two uses for the one product. If you have too much leftover it freezes well if you boil it up a bit or roast it beforehand. So don’t be scared of cooking your pumpkin.