Now, I must confess that I don’t really get into the whole Halloween thing; as I find it far too commercial these days. The children (and the husband), however, do rather enjoy the traditional pumpkin carving, and there is always a keen sense of competition between them. So, I am often treated to three spooky pumpkins on my windowsill and a mountain of ‘unwanted’ pumpkin flesh and seeds left over in my kitchen.

Being somewhat of a ‘Frugal Dougal,’ I hate seeing things go to waste and I make it my mission to ensure that not a blob of pumpkin goes to waste.

The curry is perfect for your supper after you return from trick-or-treating; or you can follow the amended version and turn into a warming soup instead. They are vegan friendly, dairy and gluten free (check your stock cubes are dairy gluten free if making the soup). So are ideal to serve at gatherings where you might not be sure of people’s preferences or allergies. They also both freeze beautifully, so why not keep some back for Bonfire Night?

The cake is a variation of the ever-popular carrot cake, and you can add walnuts in if you like (almonds also work well); and you can really let your imagination go to work with how you decorate if you need an easy cake for a Hallowe’en party.

Finally – roasted pumpkin seeds, or ‘pepitos’ as they are also known, make a healthy snack for TV evenings or school lunch boxes, and are good fun to make with children when you are hoping to introduce them to spicier foods.

Enjoy!

Spooktacular Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry
What you will need:
Approx 400g of firm pumpkin flesh, in rough chunks
2 cans of tinned tomatoes (400ml each)
1 can of coconut milk (400ml)
2 – 3 large sweet potatoes
1 can of chickpeas (400g)
4 tablespoons of tomato puree
4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons of turmeric
4 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
4 cloves of garlic
fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Rice or naan to serve (naan is not vegan)

Method
Cut the pumpkin flesh potato into approx 4cm chunks and set aside.
Put the tomato puree, vinegar, garlic, spices and salt in a hob-friendly casserole dish or fairly deep wide-based pan with some olive or vegetable oil. Heat for a minute or two until bubbling away.
Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pot and stir really well to ensure the tomatoes and coconut milk are all blended together nicely. It may look at little lumpy and curdled at first, but it will be fine, I promise you.
Add in the pumpkin and bring to the boil, then drop to a simmer . Allow the pot to simmer for about forty minutes, then add the drained chickpeas and cook for another 15 minutes.
Finely chop the coriander and serve the curry with your side of choice.
*Top Tip – Omit the chickpeas and instead add a pint of vegan vegetable stock and cook in a saucepan and you also have a delicious spicy soup.


Frighteningly Good Pumpkin Cake

Serves 12
Ingredients:
400g prepared pumpkin – you can use your ‘stringy bits’ for this!
175ml sunflower or vegetable oil
250g light muscovado sugar
2 medium eggs
175g self-raising flour, sieved
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp each ground cinnamon and ground mixed spice

For the topping:

100g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Method:

Set the oven to 180°C (Fan 160), gas 4. Put the pumpkin flesh into a large pan with 4 tbsp water and cook gently with the lid on for 15 mins or until softened, and then drain.

Use a hand-held stick blender to blend the pumpkin flesh until smooth, use a traditional blender or simply mash down with a potato masher until you achieve a smooth puree.

Put the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk together, using a hand-held electric mixer or a fork until thick and pale.

Grease and line a 7 inch square cake tin (you can use any shape, but the square is easiest to cut into equal size squares).

Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and spices. Gently stir in the pumpkin purée. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-50 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin for 5 mins. Run a knife around the edges and turn cake out on to a wire rack to cool.

To make the topping whisk the icing sugar, butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand whisk. Spoon on top of the cake and spread evenly – make sure the cake is absolutely cool before you do this! Dust with cinnamon or decorate with spooky edible treats and serve.

Devilishly Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I absolutely despair when I see people throwing away the seeds from their pumpkin lantern – I think the seeds are the tastiest things (and they are so good for you) and the core recipe couldn’t be easier.
All you need to do is to remove the seeds from your pumpkin using a spoon and wash them under a sieve to remove as much of the flesh from them as possible – get in there with your hands and it really isn’t a tricky job.

Dry the seeds by wrapping them in a clean tablecloth and giving them a squeeze, then add them to a bowl.

Add 2 teaspoons of oil or butter (I prefer olive oil) and 3 teaspoons combined (or to taste) of your flavouring of choice; toss, stir or get your hands in there to ensure each seed is well coated.
Spread your seeds out on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for around 45 mins to 1 hour at 150 degrees / Gas 3 until crisp and golden; turning several times to ensure even cooking.
Spice ideas:
Cajun seasoning and paprika
Chilli and fennel
Garlic granules and Worcestershire Sauce
Tandoori spices

You can add an additional 2 teaspoons of honey to any of the above to add a sweetness to the seeds; or make a sweet snack by mixing the honey with a mix of ground ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice. Just let your imagination go wild!

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