October – pumpkins and pepitas

The month of October smells of Autumn, of harvest and of course of pumpkins!

There is a lot more to do with a pumpkin than to make a smiley head, so for those who will be buying a pumpkin for Hallowe’en and feel bad at the prospect of wasting flesh, seeds and of course the pumpkin, we are offering you some delicious suggestions that enable you to use the whole thing and make a full meal out of what would otherwise be wasted.

If you want to learn how to make the most of your pumpkin, come to our Pumpkin Day event on Tue 1st Nov 4pm and bring your children.  Class costs only 50p per person to local EC1 residents.

Here is our menu:

Toasted chilli and lime pumpkin seeds (pepitas):

You can eat the seeds of a pumpkin if you dry them and toast them first.  To do this you will need to wash them from any bits of flesh and then boil them in salted water, dry toast them on a hot frying pan, stirring all the time until crispy and golden.  Season with any kind of delicious flavours like mixing with chilli powder and lime juice.


How to make the perfect pumpkin puree for all kinds of pies, cakes and other dishes:

Cut any pieces of seedless pumpkin and put cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in an over at 200 C until completely soft.   Scoop out from the flesh and puree in a blender or food processor.  Leave to cool and use as necessary.  You can freeze this puree for later use.

Black bean and pumpkin soup (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Enough for 6 people

2 x 400 g tins of black beans, rinsed and drained

200 g tinned chopped tomatoes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp ground cumin

Salt and black pepper to taste

750ml of beef, chicken or vegetable stock

400 g pumpkin puree

A good glug of (optional) sherry

100 g (optional) cooked bacon pieces


Soured cream or crumbled fetta cheese and lightly salted broken tortilla chips to garnish


Using a food processor or blender or just a large fork and good old elbow grease, coarsely puree the beans and the tomatoes.  In a stock pot cook the onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper in oil or butter over medium heat, until the onion is soft.  Stir the mashed up beans, add the stock, pumpkin and sherry and mix well, add more water or stock if necessary, cook uncovered stirring ocassionaly for 20 minutes or thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Just before serving add the optional bacon and you can give it a Mexican flavour by adding soured cream and crumbled fetta and a few broken tortilla chips.

Pumpkin and chickpea curry (v)

Serves 6

2 Tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

4 shallots, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch of ginger finely chopped

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground coriander

1 ½ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp hot paprika

2 Tbps tomato puree

About 1 kg of pumpkin or any other squash, seeds removed and cut into chunks

2 tins of chickpeas or any other pulse like butterbeans or black eye peas

About 1 litre of hot stock

300 ml natural yoghurt

A small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped.

In a large stockpot heat up the oil or ghee and add the shallot, garlic and ginger, fry until soft and aromatic, add the spices and fry until nice and even more aromatic!  Add the pumpkin and tomato, stir well so everything is coated with the spices.  Add the chickpeas and enough stock to almost cover.  Cover and bring to the boil and cook until the vegetables are soft (about 15 minutes).  Just before serving spoon some natural yoghurt and mix, garnish with coriander and enjoy.

Moist pumpkin cake


300g pumpkin (without skin or seeds), grated
4 eggs
250 g sugar
75 g of extra virgin olive oil
300 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 Tbsp. crystallised ginger very finely cut
Icing sugar for dusting once out of the oven

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Remove the skin of the pumpkin, the seeds, and inner filaments, to obtain 300g pumpkin and reserve. Beat the eggs with the sugar until fluffy, incorporate the oil slowly while still whisking, add the flour and spices and mix. Add the grated pumpkin and ginger.

Pour into a mould that has been lined with baking parchment a 22 cm round tin should be ok.  Bake for about 35 minutes, check that the cake is cooked inside by inserting a needle or skewer, if it is out to clean it is already ready, if it comes out dirty, you need a few more minutes, but avoid opening the oven door for the first 20 minutes of baking.   When the cake is ready, cool down and dust with icing sugar.