Zero food waste alongside other ways of helping to be kind to the planet is a topic close to our hearts. 2020 has shown us the importance of appreciating what we have and at times needing to make the most of what we have.
As Halloween is approaching, families are busy picking their own pumpkins and buying them from the supermarket in preparation for carving them out to make lanterns. What though happens to the fleshy, edible middle that's not needed for the lanterns?
Since 2014, environmental charity Hubub has been campaigning to encourage people to eat their pumpkins
and not to discard the nutritious, edible middle. Hubub estimates in the UK alone this Halloween, 12.8 million pumpkins will be used to carve out lanterns and then they will be simply thrown away.
Cooking with pumpkins is a cost effective and nutritious way to feed your family. With the aim of zero pumpkin waste, we're sharing with you a way you can re-use your squash with simple ingredients such as pasta; with the addition of a few treat ingredients like mozzarella and ricotta cheese, to make a delicious pasta bake for your family, which can be enjoyed on fright night.
- YOU WILL NEED -
- 1 x knife
- 1 x chopping board
- 1 x baking tray
- 1 x saucepan
- 1 x wooden spoon
- 1 x big bowl
- 1 x baking dish
- INGREDIENTS -
- 300g roasted pumpkin flesh
- 1 x medium red onion
- 100g mushrooms
- 2 x garlic cloves
- 150g spinach
- 150g ricotta
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 175g large pasta shells
- 2 x tins chopped tomatoes
- 125g light mozzerella
- glug of oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
- ROAST YOUR PUMPKIN PIECES -
- Preheat your oven to 200°C
- Remove the top from your pumpkin as you would to carve your lantern, then use your hands or a spoon to scoop out all of the stringy flesh, and seeds. Separate this, as you can save it to use in other recipes.
See below our 'Zero waste tips'
- Using the pieces of flesh you've carved from the middle of your pumpkin. slice them into 1 inch strips- don't forget to include the pieces with the skin from carving out your lantern. Lay the strips onto a large baking tray, drizzle with a little oil, then season with salt and pepper before roasting in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Once soft and caramelised, remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool.
- PREPARE THE SAUCE -
- Cook the pasta shells according to the packet instructions, then rinse with cold water and allow to cool.
- Heat a saucepan with 1 tsp oil on a medium heat. Peel and dice the onion before adding to the saucepan with the minced garlic cloves. Season, and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the onions have softened a little.
- While the onions are cooking, wash and roughly chop the mushrooms, then add them to the pan with the spinach. Stir the ingredients to combine and cook until the spinach has wilted.
- Remove half of the mixture from the pan, add it to a big bowl and set it aside for later. Pour the chopped tomatoes into the saucepan with the remaining mixture and stir to mix before taking the pan off of the heat.
- MAKE THE PASTA FILLING -
- Return to your roasted pumpkin slices and use your fingers to peel the skin from the flesh. Weigh out 300g of flesh, then reserve the rest to use in a multitude of other recipes.
- Take the cooked pumpkin and add to the bowl with half of the onion mixture you set aside earlier. Scoop in the ricotta and lemon juice, season, then use a fork to mash the filling together.
- FINAL TOUCHES -
- Take a large baking dish and pour the tomato mixture into the base of the dish.
- Carefully take a pasta shell and use a teaspoon to fill with the pumpkin mixture. Place the shell on top of the sauce and repeat this process until all of the pasta is filled.
- Use your fingers to tear the mozzerella into small chunks. Dot the cheese around the dish before baking in the oven (still at 200°C) for 25 minutes, ensuring the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately with fresh vegetables, salad or crusty garlic bread. Enjoy!
- ZERO WASTE TIPS -
To make the most out of your pumpkins, you can blitz the stringy flesh in a food processor until it resembles a purée. This can be frozen for a later date, and used for anything from pumpkin pie to a beautiful autumnal soup.
In addition to this, pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, high in protein, and delicious to add to salads, porridge or meals. Wash under cold water in a colander, then allow to dry and roast in the oven for 25 minutes at 200°C for a nutritious addition to your diet.
Try some roasted seeds sprinkled on your pasta dish to give it texture and
All images by @leekslentilsandlove
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