Fire-cooking Autumn pumpkins
Outdoor fire-cooking for pumpkins – it’s a nutritious and healthy way to cook veg! We decided to try some of our beautiful Castle Farm pumpkins on our open fire pit. Many people are scared to cook whole pumpkins, as they can look big & intimidating but, by roasting them this way, you can soften that dense flesh and make them much easier to cut, dice or mash whilst not losing any of the flavour.
Once alight, you’ll need to leave the fire to heat through for at least 20 minutes so the logs are glowing red and everything is nice and hot.
Now time to choose your pumpkins! We’re going to try a few different varieties – all of which we sell at The Hop Shop. There is a huge range to choose from and they’re dual purpose – you can have the fun of using them for Autumn decoration before you eat them!
Vibrant orange spheres might seem like an obvious choice and I have to say the Onion Squash works so well in a lasagne with pesto, but don’t discount the beautiful stone-grey Crown Prince which has dense flesh and a lovely sweet flavour, or the dark green, tasty Gem Squash which works really well stuffed with cheese.
Children can choose their favourites but don’t let them go near the fire!
First, pierce a couple of holes in your pumpkin. Once the fire’s going, make a little space in the middle and place your chosen pumpkin inside. Then cover it with some of the hot logs. This will create a little air flow and ensure the top and bottom of the pumpkins cook at the same time. Now don’t leave it too long, you’ll need to check on your pumpkin in 15 minutes to see how quickly it’s softening and make sure it’s cooking evenly. A medium-sized Crown Prince took about 45 minutes in our experiment.
An Onion Squash and a Butternut Squash were each done in 30 minutes, as the fire was roaring hot and they tend to soften a little quicker than other varieties. Keep poking the pumpkins with a skewer, or thin knife to check, and add some more hot logs on top if necessary. Once the flesh feels soft enough, it’s done!
The skin will blacken, and it may look burnt, but have a little faith! The skin traps the steam inside and keeps the flesh beautifully moist and makes it easy to scoop out. Once it’s soft enough for you, use your barbecue utensils and heat-resistant gloves to carefully lift it out of the fire, and leave it somewhere to rest and cool for 10-15 minutes. TIP – It will be very soft so lift it from underneath.
Once it’s cooled a little, you can cut it in half but be careful as it may still be hot inside. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits – they will come out like butter – a much easier job than with a raw pumpkin!
In a bowl, I mixed some feta and Seggiano Pesto with a few glugs of Seggiano extra virgin Olive Oil (both available in the farm shop), then I tossed in some baby leaf salad. The pumpkins were so flavoursome they only needed a little salt and some fresh herby-ness to balance.
I scooped out a little of the Crown Prince flesh onto a slate, spooned the pesto feta salad on top and then served up. It worked really well as a side dish with a spiced, roast chicken, but you could totally do a bigger portion!
There are plenty of ways to use the flesh, from topping a lovely cottage pie to smashing up with chillies and serving with some great British bangers!
I even used some the following morning to make pumpkin fritters served with poached eggs and smashed avocado! Let me know how you get on this Autumn, and how you use your open-fire roasted pumpkin!