Spiced roasted pumpkin with pine nut cream

Pumpkin reminds me of my childhood. Each winter, pumpkin soup would grace the table and was always welcomed. It was also the only soup that appealed to the whole family.

It was the most wholesome soup, made of the simplest things: pumpkin, chicken stock, onion, butter and a pinch of nutmeg.

There are countless recipes for pumpkin out there, some rather questionable. One of the most practical things to do with a pumpkin, I believe, is to simply roast it. This is the best way to bring out its flavour. Roast pumpkin is simple but can be easily spoilt, and some varieties work better than others. Some with higher sugar content burn easily, while other varieties with a high moisture content turn to mush if not cooked at a high enough temperature.

After a meal at home, leftovers are usually put in the fridge on a plate wrapped in cling wrap and sometimes, sadly, thrown out a few days later. Roast pumpkin leftovers, though, are an easy vegetable to adapt and incorporate into another meal. If I am cooking pumpkin, I usually cook more than I need.

The leftovers have a great concentration of flavour and the caramelised flesh just adds to it. I like to mash the leftover pumpkin with a fork and fold it through a simple cheesy risotto at the last minute. Or dice leftover roast pumpkin and add it to a grain salad along with nuts and herbs. Because of its sweetness, pumpkin also pairs well with spices.

It should be noted that the attached recipe can be transformed to a vegan-friendly recipe quite easily: replace the milk for good-quality store-bought almond milk and delete the butter used for basting the pumpkin as it roasts.


Spiced roasted pumpkin with pine nut cream

Serves 4

– 1kg Japanese pumpkin cut into wedges

– 1 tbsp grapeseed oil

– 2 tbsp softened butter

Pine nut cream

– 5 tbsp (60g) roasted pine nuts

– 5 tbsp (100ml) milk

– 2½ tbsp grapeseed oil

– salt and fresh lemon juice to season

– 6 tbsp pumpkin seeds

– ½ tsp salt

– ¼ tsp ground cardamom

Pumpkin spices

– 3 tbsp brown sugar

– 1 tbsp ground cardamom

– ½ tbsp ground allspice

– ½ tbsp sea salt

– ¼ tbsp ground white pepper

To make the pine nut cream, preheat your oven to 160ºC. Place the pine nuts on an oven tray and bake for about 10 minutes or until a light golden colour.

Transfer the pine nuts to a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a simmer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to infuse at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Using a stick blender, blend the pine nuts and milk into a smooth sauce. Slowly drizzle the grapeseed oil while still blending to emulsify and thicken. Season the pine nut sauce with salt, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

While your oven is still hot, roast the pumpkin seeds in the same fashion as the pine nuts, leave to cool before roughly crushing using a mortar and pestle with the ground cardamom and salt. Meanwhile, increase your oven temperature to 180ºC.

Mix the pumpkin spices together. Coat the wedges of pumpkin in grapeseed oil and dust all sides with the spice mix. Place the pumpkin skin-side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the pumpkin with the softened butter from time to time and continue to roast for 10 minutes. Turn the pumpkin onto its side and roast for 10 minutes and then flip it over and roast for another 10 minutes or until cooked through. All this fuss of flipping the pumpkin is optional, I do this to ensure even caramelisation on all sides.

To serve, spoon the pine nut cream into the centre of a serving dish. Place the pumpkin on the sauce skin-side down and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.


Wine pairing:

2015 Erste+Neue pinot bianco, Alto Adige, Italy ($32)

– Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 8, 2017 as "Orange bounty". Subscribe here.

Andrew McConnell
is the executive chef and co-owner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc.

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