It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is if, like me and every basic millennial woman ever, you adore all things autumnal.
You may already be stockpiling pumpkins of all shapes and sizes every time you do a food shop, but there is so much more pumpkin goodness to enjoy than sickly spiced lattes and pies.
Carving your pumpkin will be the least enticing thing on the menu with these smashing pumpkin dishes, perfect comfort food when the temperatures start to plummet.
Pumpkin, Kale and Sausage Gratin
A bubbling dish of this gorgeous gratin is one of the cosiest dinners I can think of, bursting with the perfect balance of sweet and savoury, with sausage making it a main event rather than a side.
The smaller the pumpkin the better for this gratin and all the below dishes, Hokkaido and Delicata pumpkins are particularly flavourful and buttery in texture when cooked. For this, quarter the pumpkin (you may need two) then thinly slice into half-moons for layering.
Using a pound of the best sausages you can find, remove the meat from the casing and add a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of dried sage and seasoning. Fry on a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes with two handfuls of kale, breaking it up into a mince consistency.
Add a layer of pumpkin to a butter greased baking dish, sprinkle with fresh thyme and black pepper, then dot sausage all over and layer up until you run out of both.
Bring 300ml of double cream in a pan on a medium heat to the boil, add a sprinkle of nutmeg and a dessertspoon or so of white wine or cider, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes before pouring over the pumpkin.
Bake for 45 minutes at 180C, until the cream is bubbling and the pumpkin is skewer tender. You can add leave it at that oozing baked delight, or add a final layer of indulgence with a breadcrumb topping and fine grating of parmesan, popped under the grill for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Cannelloni/Open Lasagne with Brown Butter and Walnuts
The combination of roasted pumpkin, fresh pasta, brown butter, walnut and sage transports me back to Florence, or at least Ranelagh gem Host’s now famous pumpkin cappellacci dish of dreams.
If you’re not a homemade pasta aficionado and want to whip up a midweek meal that screams decadence without too much dedication, buying fresh pasta sheets to make cheat’s cannelloni is the way forward.
Simply slice a medium pumpkin in half, deseed and roast at 160C in the oven for 1 hour. Once tender, scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add 200g of ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan, a pinch of ground nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Boil the lasagne sheets with a dash of olive oil for 2 minutes until slightly tender, reserving some starchy water. Remove, pat dry and fill each with pumpkin mix then roll up into a thick tube shape and place in a greased baking dish. Pour in 2 tbsp reserved starch water, cover with foil and bake at 175C for 15-20 minutes. You could also layer this up like an open lasagne of sorts for an even quicker fix.
To make the brown butter walnut sauce, melt 75g of unsalted butter in a saucepan on a medium high heat, swirling occasionally. After 5 minutes or so the butter will begin to foam and smell nutty (hence the French name beurre noisette), with the milk solids turning dark brown.
Once this has happened, add 3-4 fresh sage leaves and a handful of chopped walnuts and allow to infuse for a minute or two on a medium heat. Remove the cannelloni from the oven, pour over the brown butter sauce, gild the lily by grating some more parmesan on top and serve with a fresh green salad with lemon juice.
If you’re a fan of sweet potato mash, you’ll be all the more taken by roasted pumpkin mash. Lighter and therefore completely deserving of some extra butter, this is low maintenance mash that punches above its weight in the flavour stakes.
Roast your pumpkin and scoop out the flesh as above and this time add a large tablespoon of cream cheese, a knob of butter, pinch of onion salt and mash. Voila: a creamy, hearty, super seasonal mash without breaking out the potato peeler.
I adore this as a topping for Shepherd’s Pie, with roast pork or pan-fried duck breasts as the subtle sweetness cuts beautifully through fattier meats but in truth, this mash has a place on any autumnal plate.
Roasted Pumpkin Hummus
For a quick but tremendously delicious way to elevate everyone’s favourite dip, replace half your chickpeas in your go-to hummus recipe with roasted pumpkin puree.
With a few additions, you can transform this into a very impressive lunch or starter. Top the hummus with slices of crispy roasted sliced pumpkin and seeds, tossed in oil, seasoned and roasted at 190C for 45 minutes and finish with fresh coriander, pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.
For Italian rather than Middle Eastern vibes, top your pumpkin hummus with a generous dollop of pesto, creme fraiche, toasted seeds or pine nuts and serve alongside herby onion focaccia, a la Fade Street Social.
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes with Pecans and Mascarpone
While the famed PSL (pumpkin spiced latte) is too cloyingly sweet for my taste, I absolutely approve of the spice mix it has made famous and you can easily make it at home. Mix 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon ground cloves and keep in a jar for the next time a craving hits.
Better than a latte any day, this spice mix is next level delicious in buttermilk pumpkin pancakes. For a quick brunch shortcut, roughly remove the skin and chop pumpkin into cubes in a large bowl. Cover with water and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until soft. Drain and mash well. You could also use tinned pumpkin if you can find it.
In a large bowl, whisk 175g flour, a heaped tsp of pumpkin pie spice, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt together. In a measuring jug, mix a large egg with 470ml of buttermilk then add 175g of pumpkin puree and 25g of melted butter. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, whisking to form a smooth batter.
Fry dollops of batter in butter on medium heat until bubbles appear, flip and repeat. Top with pecans, maple syrup and mascarpone mixed with a couple of drops of vanilla extract or some crispy bacon.
Lamb Tagine Recipe with Pumpkin and Apricot
This gently spiced tagine is the dinner equivalent of curling up by the fireplace on a chilly evening: pure, soul-warming comfort food.
A few simple steps, spices you already have in the cupboard and a low and slow spell on the stove top make this Lamb Tagine, sweetened beautifully with pumpkin and dried apricots, an autumn dinner go-to. For best results, I like to leave this blipping away on the stove top for the day, but it is also excellent finished in a slow cooker.
Pumpkin, Cranberry and Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad
I live to call this pumpkin, cranberry and roasted sprout bowl my Festive AF salad, but it starts tempting me as soon as the leaves begin to fall and I have no plans to wait until December to enjoy it.
Roast cubed pumpkin along with halved Brussels sprouts in olive oil for 20-25 minutes at 180C. Massage de-stalked kale with apple cider vinegar and toss with the pumpkin, Brussels sprouts in with a scattering of dried cranberries and walnuts.
Whisk together a quick dressing with wholegrain mustard, salt and pepper, maple syrup or my favourite Homespun Chicory Root Syrup, apple cider vinegar and olive oil and drizzle generously, finishing with grated parmesan or even better, truffle pecorino.
WRITTEN BY DARINA COFFEY