October means one thing: pumpkin spiced latte season is here.
But if you prefer your winter squash in solid form, you may be interested to know that eight million pumpkins get thrown away in the UK every year.
Need some context? That would mean that the amount of pumpkins wasted would be enough to serve up 360 million slices of pumpkin pie, or to provide every person in the country with a bowl of pumpkin soup!
If you’re keen to reduce your food waste (especially around this time of year), here are a few tips on how to use every part, plus delicious methods of cooking your pumpkin, from food waste expert Emilie Vanpoperinghe.
Pumpkin is sweet, nutty and robust and pairs well with warming, autumnal flavours, like chilli, woody herbs like thyme and rosemary, and punchy, earthy spices like cumin and coriander, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Roast it simply by slicing your pumpkin into wedges (you can keep the skin on) and drizzling with oil, a little honey and cumin seeds.
Roast until golden and tender at 200ºC. Roasted pumpkin is great in colourful warm salads, for example with kale, chopped nuts and an orange dressing.
Serve as wedges alongside a veggie burger or pair with hummus as Nigel Slater does here.
Make pumpkin hummus. Roast your pumpkin as above, then leave to cool. Scoop out the flesh (if you didn’t remove the peel first), then blitz in a blender with tahini, lemon juice, a bit of garlic and cumin.
Mash your pumpkin by chopping the flesh into small chunks (make sure to remove the skin first, see below) and boil until tender.
Drain and mash it well with a knob of butter or a bit of oil and a splash of milk or dairy-free milk. Serve as a side or on top of a veggie cottage pie, or turn the mash into Sunday brunch pumpkin pancakes with a pinch of autumnal cinnamon and nutmeg.
Save yourself the trouble of removing the peel and keep it on unless you’re making a mash, hummus or purée. If you do remove the peel, save it by roasting it into crisps: sprinkle with salt, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and bake it for 25 minutes on the top rack of a 200ºC oven until crisp. Here’s what you do next:
Store your pumpkin crisps for a snack on the go.
Serve up with pumpkin hummus (see above) for a delicious zero-waste nibble.
Crisp butty: make yours more saintly and squash your pumpkin crisps into a sarnie with roasted veg and a layer of hummus.
Save your pumpkin seeds by roasting them to add to our favourite dishes. Rinse the seeds of the fleshy, stringy bits and dry in a clean tea towel. #
Place on a baking tray and coat with olive oil or coconut oil and a pinch of salt and chilli flakes (if you like), then roast for about 10 minutes at 180ºC. Here’s what to do next:
Shake up your seeds with your usual homemade or shop-bought granola mix.
Scatter them onto soup or into salads for nice added texture.
Stir through rice, couscous or other grains along with dried fruit and serve as a jewelled side to curry.
At the centre of your pumpkin, you’ll find a bunch of seeds attached to stringy flesh. When you remove and clean your seeds, keep those leftovers to add to your next soup or veggie fritters. You could even freeze it until you’re ready to use it.
If all else fails, use the stringy flesh for composting and the pumpkin itself as a planter.