Sweet and nutty with creamy flesh, pumpkin and butternut squash are interchangeable in most recipes and provide a good fibre-boost, among other important nutrients. Here are 10 tasty things you can do with pumpkin or squash.
1. Warming tagine
Cook chunks of pumpkin or squash in a tagine or flameproof casserole over a medium-low heat with chopped onions, drained tinned chickpeas (in water), tinned tomatoes, ras el hanout spice blend and dried apricots until tender. Serve with couscous.
Or try our Vegetarian tagine
2. Hearty salad
Put thick slices of pumpkin or squash in a roasting tray with wedges of raw beetroot. Drizzle with chilli-flavoured olive oil, then roast until tender. Toss with lightly-steamed tenderstem broccoli, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled goat’s cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.
3. Creamy soup
Pumpkin and squash give soup a wonderfully smooth and indulgent texture, so there’s no need to add cream. Cook chunks of squash in reduced-salt vegetable stock with chopped onion, garlic, ginger and red chilli until tender. Blend until smooth, then stir through a little reduced-fat coconut milk.
Or try our delectable Pumpkin soup with cannellini beans
4. Smashing mash
Mash steamed or boiled pumpkin or squash with freshly grated nutmeg and a little reduced-fat crème fraîche, then use in place of potato toppings for pies and bakes. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts, then cook in the oven until golden.
5. Tasty gnocchi
Steam or bake pumpkin or squash until tender. Mash until smooth, then add enough beaten egg and plain flour to make a soft dough. Roll into sausages, then cut into 2cm discs. Boil for a few minutes or until they float to the surface, then drain. Gently mix with wilted spinach, a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of parmesan.
6. Baked and stuffed
Cut squash or baby pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut surfaces with crushed garlic, then put cut-side down on an oiled baking tray and bake for 30 min or until soft. Turn cut-side up and fill with a mix of cooked chopped leeks, lean bacon, basmati and wild rice, and fresh thyme and parsley. Dot with low-fat garlic and herb soft cheese, then return to the oven to heat through.
Or try our Lamb and apricot stuffed squash
7. Cinnamon scones
Combine 100g self-raising flour, 1tsp baking powder and 1tsp ground cinnamon in a mixing bowl, then use your fingers to rub in 50g low-fat spread. Add 500g cooked, cooled and mashed or blended pumpkin or squash and 1tbsp runny honey, then mix to form a soft dough. Transfer to a floured surface and pat out with your hands, then cut into rounds. Bake at 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 on a lined baking sheet for 10–12 min.
8. Toasted seeds
Put pumpkin or squash seeds in a sieve and rinse under cold water until clean. Drain, then dry on kitchen paper. Toss in a mixing bowl with a pinch each of turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder (to taste), then spread on a baking tray and roast at 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4 for 20 min or until golden, turning occasionally. Cool, then store in an airtight container to sprinkle over salads and risotto.
9. Lower-sugar muffins
Coarsely grated raw pumpkin or squash can be used just as you would carrots in cakes and bakes. Their natural sweetness means you can cut back on sugar. Sift 250g self-raising flour with 2tsp baking powder into a mixing bowl, then add 75g soft brown sugar and the zest of 1 orange. Lightly beat 2 eggs with 175ml skimmed milk and 3tbsp sunflower oil in a jug, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix in 250g coarsely grated raw pumpkin or squash and 50g raisins, then spoon into a muffin tray lined with muffin cases. Bake at 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5 for 20 min.
10. Perfect pizza
Roast pumpkin or squash slices with red onion wedges, fresh rosemary sprigs and a drizzle of olive oil until tender. Cover a pizza base with passata, then top with the roasted veg and sprinkle with a little crumbled blue cheese. Bake for 10 min or until the cheese melts. Scatter with rocket to serve.
Or try our Spicy pumpkin and prosciutto pizzas
4 quick facts about butternut squash and pumpkin
- Butternut squash and pumpkin are really low in calories – 100g squash has just 32kcal, while pumpkin comes in even lower at 13kcal. Combine this with their high-fibre content and they’re a great choice for filling you up, especially if you’re trying to lose weight
- Squash is loaded with nutrients, in particular beta-carotene (the pigment that gives these veg their bright orange colour), which the body converts into vitamin A
- Just 80g baked butternut squash – the amount needed to make up one of your five-a-day – contains 55 per cent of your daily needs for vitamin A, needed for healthy eyesight
- The veg are also useful sources of antioxidants, which help to fight free radical cell damage in the body.