Pie-eyed over Pumpkin?

Barbara Wilson

While our American cousins are tucking into their traditional pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, pumpkin and squash are making their way into our shops, too. Many varieties of pumpkin and squash are available and they come in all shapes and sizes. But just what do we do with these weird and wonderful vegetables?

The range of dishes you can make with them is almost endless – from bread, cakes and the all-American pumpkin pie to soup, tarts and a whole host of savoury meals. Here are some ideas…

Squash Soup

Heat 1tsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add a sliced onion, a diced carrot, a sliced leek, 2 diced stalks of celery, a butternut squash, peeled and diced, and 4 rashers of lean, smoked bacon, cut into pieces. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When softened, stir in a heaped tbs of plain flour and gradually add a pint of stock.

Stir in 2 tsp dried tarragon and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 45 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and then liquidise using a blender. Return to the saucepan, check the seasoning and re-heat. Stir in a tbs half-fat crème fraiche just before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information: 210 calories, 7g fat and 27g carbs per serving.

Polenta with Squash

Peel and dice a butternut or other variety of squash, and boil for 15-20 minutes until tender. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Prepare 200g soft polenta as directed on the packet. Once cooked (around 10 minutes for quick-cook polenta, 40 minutes for regular), stir in the mashed squash, a heaped tbs of grated Parmesan cheese, a tsp fresh thyme and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve as a side dish with grilled meat, sausages or even stew, or use in place of pasta with a tomato-based sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information: 190 calories, 2g fat and 40g carbs per serving.

Vegetable Satay Kebabs

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Thread chunks of aubergine, squash and pepper onto metal or wooden skewers (soaked in water). Mix together 1tsp each of olive oil, sesame oil and lemon or lime juice and ½ tsp coriander seeds. Brush over the vegetables skewers. Roast for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with the oil.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat any remaining aromatic oil and gently cook a small chopped onion, a diced chilli and ½ in fresh ginger, grated. Once softened, add 1tbs each of peanut butter, water and soy sauce and ½ tbs each of tomato puree and honey. Simmer to reduce the volume slightly. Use to pour over the vegetables kebabs.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional information: 270 calories, 18g fat and 20g carbs per serving.

Start a diet plan at tescodiets.com

Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.