Pumpkin Puree and Oven-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is nearing and I'm getting in the spirit (see what I did there?) by baking oodles and oodles of pumpkin inspired goodies. I adore pumpkins. They are so gorgeous to look at and even better to eat so I am mega excited about consuming masses of them over the coming weeks.

We buy our pumpkins from the side of the road here in Cornwall - a little stop off between Penzance and Pendeen. They're displayed in a little wooden shelving cabinet with the prices marked in pen on the pumpkins themselves (it's easily washed off). Then you put your money into a little iron hole in the ground - how quaint is that? The city girl in me still hasn't completely adjusted to country life so things like this give me a thrill.

It got me thinking about how difficult it is to buy canned pumpkin puree here in UK - it's almost as if it's a specialist item, which is ridiculous really. The thing I loved about living in the US was their appreciation of not only Halloween but all things pumpkin. I miss that. Fear not though because I can try and impart some of that pumpkin enthusiasm myself and bring a much needed dose of Halloween fever to this part of the world.

See, where I'm from in Ireland, Halloween is a big deal. Huge! There is a massive carnival and you look like the odd one out if you're not in fancy dress. Derry sure knows how to throw a party! We all know it was the Irish that brought the pumpkin carving tradition to the States so I feel my love for  Halloween is in the blood. Ghosties and ghoulies galore is what I say - bring it on!

In order to make this Cornish Halloween the best one ever we need to start with the basics and that is always going to be pumpkin puree. Once you've made this the world is literally your oyster when it comes to pumpkin goodies - sweet or savoury. So far, my list (and it's ever growing) includes pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, chocolate and pumpkin swirl brownies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter and for a more nutritious dish; a delicious, warming, autumnal pumpkin soup. Phew! I'm also toying with the idea of making Marly's wonderful looking pumpkin whoopie pies.

One last thing. Whatever you do DO NOT toss those magnificent seeds in the bin. They are outstanding when roasted in the oven and make for great nibbles either throughout the day or even at a party. We're still waiting on our stuff to arrive (don't ask!) but when it does I'm going to coat them in my favourite Chipotle spice mix for an uber tasty snack.

If I'm this excitable at Halloween I dread to think what I'm going to be like this Christmas!

pumpkin puree

1 small/medium pumpkin

1 cup water

preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.

Halve the pumpkin and scoop out all the seeds, reserving them for later.

Place the pumpkin flesh side down in a baking dish or roasting tin. Pour in the water. Roast in oven for an hour or until flesh is very soft.

Carefully remove from dish and allow to cool.

Scoop out all the soft flesh, transfer to a blender and blend until you get a puree like consistency.

You should yield 2 cups/800 ml from a small pumpkin. Keep in fridge or freeze.

roasted pumpkin seeds

pumpkin seeds from a pumpkin

1 tbsp olive oil

good quality sea salt

Sort through the stringy bits to get the pumpkin seeds.

Do not wash the pumpkin seeds otherwise they will lose all their natural flavour. Coat in oil and sprinkle on salt. Bake in oven (same temp as before) for 10-15 mins until they are dry. Keep a close eye on them as they go from golden to burnt very quickly.

You could roast them at a lower temp for a longer period of time, e.g. 150 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit for 30-40minutes but my oven was already pre-heated.


other stuff, veganAine Carlin