‘Smashing’ Pumpkins – the best of the autumn harvest

Selection of pumpkins

Here in France, as the vibrancy of summer shifts away from the greens and reds of summer squashes, tomatoes and peppers to a more mellow, golden autumn of mushrooms, walnuts and beetroot we start to focus our attention on heartier, more robust dishes. And what better way to kick off the new season than with pumpkins and winter squashes and celebrate the oncoming cooler days.

Warm salad of roasted pumpkin wedges with pistachio and pomegranate

Serves: 6

1 kg round pumpkin, such as kabocha

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

30g pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

75g pomegranate seeds

50g rocket leaves

a handful coriander leaves

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan-forced. De-seed the pumpkin and cut into 2cm thick wedges. Place the wedges in a roasting tin lined with baking paper. Combine 2 tablespoons of the the oil, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and 4 tablespoons of cold water and drizzle over the wedges. Roast for 35-40 minutes, turning several times, until the pumpkin is golden and tender.

Heat a small frying pan over a low heat, add the pumpkin seeds and stir-fry for 2-3  minutes until golden and toasted. Set aside. Take 25g of the pomegranate seeds and place in a sieve. Using a metal spoon, press down to extract the juice. Discard the pulped seeds. Reserve the juice.

Whisk the remaining oil, lemon juice,honey and some salt and pepper together.

Transfer the cooked pumpkin to a large platter. Scatter over the nuts, remaining pomegranate seeds, rocket and coriander. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

Griddled pumpkin and goat cheese pizza

Makes: 2 x 30cm pizza

500g peeled pumpkin, such as butternut squash (about 800g un-peeled weight)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions

1 garlic clove

2 teaspoons savoury or thyme leaves

50g thinly sliced salami

150g soft ash-covered goat cheese, or similar

3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

2 teaspoons pine nuts

pizza dough

250g bread flour

1 tsp dried yeast

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch sugar

125-50 ml warm water

1 tbs olive oil


Make the pizza dough. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the yeast, salt and sugar. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and oil and work together until just combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. 

Preheat the oven to 230c/210c fan-forced. Cut the pumpkin or squash into 2 mm thick slices. Place in a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Stir well until coated. 

Heat a ridged grill pan until hot. Cook the pumpkin, in batches, over a medium-high for 5 minutes each side or until golden and tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the onions, garlic, savoury or thyme leaves and salt and pepper for 15-20 minutes until  the onions are soft and golden. Pop a pizza stone or heaving baking sheet on the middle shelf to heat up.

Divide the pizza dough in half and working one at a time, roll out each piece to make a 30 cm round. Place on a sheet of baking paper on a board. Spread the onion mixture over the dough and arrange the pumpkin and salami over the top. Crumble over the goat cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan and pine nuts. 

Carefully slide the pizza, still on the on the baking paper onto the preheated pizza stone or baking tray. Bake for 6-8 minutes until crisp and golden. Repeat to make 2.

Cheats butternut squash tortellonni with burnt sage butter

Serves: 4

Perfect use of ready made wonton wrappers makes this classic Italian dish easy. Make a few days ahead and freeze until ready to cook.

175g peeled and diced butternut squash (about 400g skin on)

1 small garlic clove

1 tablespoon olive oil

175g firm ricotta cheese 

25g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

40 wonton wrappers (thawed if frozen)

100g butter

32 small sage leaves

sea salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan-forced. Combine the peeled squash, garlic, oil and a little salt and pepper in a small roasting tray and roast for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through until soft and browned. Let cool completely, discard any burnt garlic bits.

Combine the cooled squash mixture with the ricotta, Parmesan and some salt and pepper in a food processor and blend briefly until smooth. Place in piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle about 1 cm wide.

Take 8 wonton wrappers and arrange on a board. Working with the wrapper on a diagonal, pipe a teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture on one half of each wrapper. Using a wet pastry brush, dampen around the mounds of filling. Fold the other half over the filling and press down really well all around the filling to seal the wrapper. Dampen the tips and pull around and press together to form the tortellonni. Place on a lightly floured tray. Repeat to make 40 and freeze until ready to cook.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Plunge the tortellonni directly from the freezer into the boiling water. Return to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes until al dente (just cooked). They will rise to the surface when ready – but always check one by removing it and cutting open.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the sage leaves and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the sage leaves are crisp and the butter a nutty brown colour. 

Drain the pasta, reserving 100 ml of the cooking water and return both to the saucepan. Add the butter sauce and stir over a medium heat for 1 minute until the pasta is coated with the butter sauce. Serve in bowls topped with a little extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti squash with butter and Parmesan

Serves: 4
This is such a delicious yet simple side dish – or served with a crisp green salad, a lovely vegetarian lunch dish.

2 x 1kg spaghetti squash

8 un-peeled garlic cloves

12 large sage leaves

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

a little freshly grated nutmeg

50g unsalted butter, diced

a little smoked paprika

25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Crisp green salad, to serve (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan-forced. Cut the squash in half lengthways and arrange in a roasting tin. Divide the garlic, sage and oil between each one and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Cover with the pan with foil and roast for 1 hour. Remove the foil and roast for a further 20-30 minutes until golden and the squash feels tender all the way through when pierced with a knife.

Top with the butter, a little paprika and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Serve with a crisp green salad, if wished.

Smoky pumpkin and lentil soup with crispy chorizo

Serves: 6

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme

1.5kg muscade de Provence or other large pumpkin (peeled weight 750g)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1.25 litres chicken stock

400g can chopped tomatoes

100g red lentils

150g spicy chorizo

salt and pepper


Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper and fry gently over a low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the pumpkin and smoked paprika and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Add the lentils, cover and simmer gently for a further 20-25 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Puree with a stick blender until really smooth.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the chorizo over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp. Divide the soup between bowls and top each one with the chorizo and rich oil.

Green curry of prawn and pumpkin

Serves: 4

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2-3 tbs green curry paste (bought)

500g red kura or other pumpkin, peeled and diced pumpkin (about 300g peeled weight)

4 kaffir lime leaves

50ml fish sauce

50g palm sugar

150ml chicken stock

400ml coconut milk

8 baby sweetcorn, halved 

8 raw king prawns, shelled but heads left on

1 tablespoon lime juice

a good handful of basil leaves, preferable Thai

a good handful coriander leaves

Jasmine rice, to serve


Heat the coconut oil in a wok. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the green curry paste and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the diced pumpkin and fry for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the lime leaves, fish sauce, sugar, stock and coconut milk, bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.

Add the baby sweetcorn and prawns to the curry and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the prawns are cooked. Stir in lime juice and herbs and remove from the heat. Serve with steamed jasmine rice. 

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