In the fabulous and colourful cucurbits family, all squashes, edible gourds, pumpkins and their cousins are magic and not only around Halloween. These chubby charmers, beautiful as Botero paintings, are good for more than just scaring away Stingy Jack. Organic ones are entirely edible: the flesh, seeds, leaves, flowers and even the rind. Rich in fibre, protein, vitamins and other goodies, they work wonders for your mood and your skin.
There are dozens of varieties of pumpkins and some are better for cooking than others. As a general rule of thumb, smaller pumpkins are sweeter and less stringy than the larger, more common Jack-O-Lantern types. Sweet or savoury, there are hundreds of ways you can eat them: breads, soups, chowders, mash, gnocchi, risottos, pumpkin tortelli, cappelletti, like in Italy, pancakes, pumpkin pies, cookies, cheesecake, etc.
For Halloween, get Raymond to scoop one out, and while he supervises the carving of the Jack-O-Lantern, concoct a devilishly divine velouté. And for starters, toast the seeds.
Pumpkin (or butternut or squash) velouté with lime
Get the meat just scraped of your pretty pumpkin. Remove the seeds and set aside. Cube and put into a lovely pan or casserole with 2.5cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated, 1 lemon grass stick, savagely beaten to a pulp with a hammer, ¼ teaspoon chili flakes or powder and enough water to cover the lot. Cook for half an hour. Remove the lemongrass and transfer the content of the pan to your mixer, add a small carton of coconut milk, the juice and zest of one lime, salt and pepper. Mix furiously, pour into your best serving bowl and decorate with Himalaya pink salt and fresh coriander leaves. On special occasions, tantalize your guests’ taste buds and take them to another dimension by replacing the coriander leaves with the exquisite mini balls of a caviar lemon added just before serving. These delightful little pearls roll under the palate before exploding in the mouth with a subtle taste of lemon and grapefruit, which works incredibly well with your velouté and carry it to glory.
You can, of course, serve it hot. Just heat it gently without the lime juice and fresh coriander or caviar lemon pearls. Add them before serving.
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Carefully wash the pumpkin seeds. Line an oven tray with cooking paper and lay out the seeds on it. Put in the oven (350 degrees or 4) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown or to taste. You can do this while baking something else. Serve them plain or sprinkled with salt and/or with chili. These little delicacies are full of protein, zinc, and magnesium and have been found to reduce rates of prostate cancer.