Pumpkin tends to be associated with Halloween but it’s a really wonderful ingredient to enjoy in a whole host of dishes. The beauty of most pumpkin and squash is that you can use every single part, from the outer rind to the delicious flesh to the seeds you’ll find hidden inside. Roasted pumpkin seeds or butternut squash seeds are great on their own or indeed in biscuits, snacks or salads. Nothing should go to waste as it all offers a deliciously gentle sweetness and nutty, earthy flavour. One of my favourite pumpkin recipes is this one, Pumpkin & pearl barley risotto.
Pumpkin & Pearl Barley Risotto
250g Pearl barley
1ltr vegetable stock
4 shallots (diced finely)
1 medium pumpkin
100g of butter
1 tablespoon of chives (chopped finely)
Extra virgin olive oil
Watercress leaves (deep-fried until crispy)
Parmesan shavings for serving
Prep the pumpkin into chunky wedges. You can also retain and dry, then roast the pumpkin seeds
Roast the pumpkin wedges in the oven until golden and well caramelised. Retain some nice pieces to garnish, purée the remaining roasted pumpkin in a blender until smooth. Reserve until later
Put vegetable stock in a pan to heat
Sweat the diced shallot in a little olive oil until completely soft. Then add the pearl barley and 50g of butter and lightly ‘roast’ the grains in the butter, without adding any colour
When the grains appear translucent on the outside begin adding the heated stock, one ladle at a time, whilst stirring very gently but continuously to avoid the grains sticking to the pan
Continue ladling stock and cooking until the grains are almost cooked through. Then stir in a 50g of butter and some of the pumpkin purée to create a nice orange colour.
When at the right consistency, remove from the heat and serve with roasted pumpkin seeds, the retained pumpkin pieces, chopped chives, crispy watercress leaves , a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan shavings.
Recipe by Tom Kitchen, images by Marc Millar.
See Tom live at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland, SECC Scotland 6-8 November.