My pumpkin carving skills are evolving. From my first pumpkin in 2009, there have been definite improvements. 2010. 2011. But this year is definitely my best pumpkin yet. Partly because I bought a big enough pumpkin! Which also meant that the scooped-out insides gave me enough flesh to cook with.
I started from this template, for a nice, detailed cat face, but then made some subtle modifications to it to make it more Maine Coon-esque (and re-sized it to fit my pumpkin).
Urchin provided valuable assistance as a model. The nose had to be cuter, the ear-tufts more exaggerated and the cheeks fuller and fluffier. So I ended up with with this.
After my pumpkin-carving efforts, I was left with a lot of pumpkin pulp and seeds. I washed the seeds thoroughly, tossed them in a mixture of chipotle, soy and maple syrup and toasted them in the oven until they were brown and crunchy.
I simmered the pumpkin flesh in a little vegetable stock until it was tender then mashed it with a fork to a fairly runny puree. I added a couple of slices of goats cheese and a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche, then stirred in some crisp little cubes of panceta (not a spelling mistake, it's the Spanish version of pancetta), some cooked orzo pasta (500g raw weight) and a bag of baby spinach leaves. I tipped the whole thing into a pyrex lasagne dish and dotted the top with more slices of goats cheese.
I baked it until the cheese looked like toasted marshmallows and the edges of the orzo were starting to crisp. Before serving, I sprinkled the top with the toasted pumpkin seeds.
|Not marshmallows - goat cheese slices|
It was a very successful bowl of pasta. I do love orzo - I don't care how many people say that all pasta tastes the same, they are wrong, orzo tastes different. The sweet pumpkin, salty-creamy cheese, salty-crunchy panceta and clean, minerally spinach worked very well together, with the salty, spicy pumpkin seeds adding another layer of texture. And it is just such a satisfying thing to base a meal around leftovers!
|All the colours of the Irish flag - not usually associated with pasta|
|Ended up menacing rather than cute|