As a rule, by the second half of October, I’d expect to be cooking up all sorts of warming stews and casseroles. However, this year, as I write this seasonal pumpkin recipe, we’re being blessed with unusually high temperatures and cloudless skies. According to iPhone weather, it’s a balmy 17°C out there…. Very strange! So rather than create a rich warming pumpkin recipe for a cold and damp Autumn, I’ve gone for a low carb healthy vegetarian option packed with just as much flavour!
Pumpkins and squash are in season right now and two a penny in the shops so it’s the perfect time to use them in the kitchen. Some advice; pumpkins can be quite tasteless unless you go for the smaller ones with dense flesh, so seek those out! I also find it’s best to roast pumpkin as this intensifies the flavour and allows the sugars to caramelise.
If you want a carb filled alternative to this recipe, simply replace the cauliflower with some cooked couscous or bulgur – around 300g cooked weight should do it for 2 portions. You’ll need a food processor for the cauliflower couscous by the way!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 350g pumpkin, skin on, cut into wedges (imagine a Terry’s chocolate orange – the skin side should be no more than 2cm wide)
- 2-3 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1 tsp crushed sumac (use lemon zest if you can’t find sumac)
- ¼ tsp crushed allspice berries
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 25g pistachios, roughly chopped
- 25g dried cranberries or sour cherries (or raisins if you can’t find cranberries)
- 25g preserved lemon, finely chopped
- Florets from ½ medium cauliflower
- 75g feta cheese
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
Set your oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with non-stick paper.
In a bowl, mix the pumpkin wedges with 1 tbsp of the harissa paste, a sprinkling of extra virgin olive oil and a liberal pinch or 3 of salt and black pepper. Place on the baking sheet and roast in your preheated oven for 35 minutes until browning at the edges.
Meanwhile, in a non-stick frying pan, heat 1.5 tbsp olive oil and gently fry your sliced onions for 15 minutes, until very soft and browning at the edges. Then add the cumin seed, sumac (or lemon zest), allspice and garlic. Allow to fry gently for a couple of minutes to cook out the garlic. Then add the cranberries, pistachios and preserved lemon. Cook for a further minute or two before taking off the heat.
Now add the cauliflower florets to the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the cauli has turned to little particles resembling couscous. Add to the pan with your onions and spices and place back on a medium heat, allowing it to cook gently for a 2-3 minutes until the cauliflower has warmed through. Stir in 2 tbsp of chopped dill and season liberally with salt and black pepper.
Now simply remove your pumpkin from the oven, arrange the couscous on plates, top with cauliflower couscous and then dot the whole lot with Greek yoghurt and the rest of the harissa paste (loosen the harissa with olive oil if it’s too thick). Crumble over the feta cheese and sprinkle with the remaining chopped dill.
I had planned on akso serving this with a kalamata olive crumb but forgot to add before I wolfed it down! So, in case you want that extra salty hit, simply roast some destoned kalamata in a separate tin whilst your pumpkin is cooking.