Much like dogs are not just for Christmas, Pumpkins are not just for Halloween. OK there is a difference. What I mean is Pumpkins are a wonderful, nutritious vegetable (well it's a fruit really) that are in season in the UK from August through to December. Many of us buy pumpkins purely for Halloween. We scoop out the middle to carve a scary faces and throw the flesh and seeds away. What a travesty! This is such a waste of such a lovely, versatile plant. Pumpkins can be eaten as a savoury or sweet dish. It goes really well with sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, all spice and ginger. And as savoury I think it goes best with sage and cheeses like parmesan, feta or goats cheese, or if you're making a curry then turmeric, cumin and coriander.
I like to cut up a whole pumpkin into bitesized chunks (skin on) with a tbsp of olive oil and roast it in the oven for 30-40 minutes until just cooked but not too brown. Then I put it in the fridge and use it to cook all sorts of things both sweet and savoury from omelettes to curries and lattes to porridge. There are so many possibilities. The roasting part is easy-peasy and this way makes cooking meals so much quicker because you can just throw it in the pan.
This recipe assumes you have roasted your pumpkin already. I have used Orzo because it makes a lovely risotto type dish, but you can always use risotto rice instead if you really want. This method is a bit of a cheat because it's not how you would normally make risotto, or orzotto. But I think it tastes just as good, it's really quick and easy, and uses just 5 ingredients (not including the butter and seasoning). It's best to have all your ingredients ready beforehand so you can just chuck it in, as the recipe requires cooking in short bursts.
180g of uncooked Orzo
15g of unsalted Butter (or plant-based margarine)
10 fresh Sage leaves, or 1 tbsp of dried
300g of pre-roasted Pumpkin
40g Parmesan Cheese (or 2 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast)
30g of Toasted Pine Nuts
almostCook the Orzo in two-thirds more water than the amount of orzo, with a tsp of olive oil and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for around 5 minutes or until al dente.
Meanwhile heat the butter in a small frying pan on a medium heat and cook for about 3 minutes until the butter starts to turn brown, making sure it doesn't burn. Add the salt and pepper and lastly the sage to the pan and sauté for about a minute or 2. We want the sage to turn crispy but not burnt.
Now add the pumpkin and saute for about 3 minutes ensure the pumpkin is completely covered in the brown butter sauce. When the orzo is ready spoon in the orzo straight from the pan using a slotted spoon. We want some but not all of the starchy water to transfer to the frying pan along with the orzo as this will help bind the ingredients together and make a risotto-like consistency. Continue to cook giving it a good stir for about 2 minutes., or until the orzo is al dente. Be careful not to overcook the orzo - just give it a little nibble to make sure it's done to your satisfaction.
Make sure the pumpkin is hot all the way through before serving, particularly if it's come straight from the fridge. Take the pan off the heat and stir in half the parmesan and some black pepper to the orzo. Serve in a bowl or on a plate and scatter the remaining parmesan and pine nuts equally over both dishes. Serve immediately with a pile of your favourite green veg.
Go Vegan: You can easily substitute ingredients to make this dish vegan friendly by using a plant-based margarine instead of butter, or scrap the brown butter bit and use olive oil instead. You can use 2 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast in the same way as the Parmesan for a lovely umami flavour.
Go Meaty: If you fancy some meat then chicken would go really well with this. Reduce the amount of pumpkin to 200g and add 150g of diced chicken after the butter has browned. once the chicken has sealed, add the pumpkin and continue as usual. As with the pumpkin, make sure the chicken is cooked through before serving.