Pick up a pumpkin

Posted on: 10th October, 2016

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22, Connolly Street, Clonakilty info@lettercollum.ie | www.lettercollum.ie | 023 8836938

We went on holiday for ten days and when we got back I could have sworn the grass had grown by 10 inches! As always in this beautiful fertile island the grass keeps growing. The drop in temperature doesn’t mean that everything else is as keen to keep growing though. The spinach and chard are now on a go-slow and even the kale production has slowed down. Mind you, they all get picked so hard for the kitchen at the shop that it’s hardly surprising they need a break.

Luckily the pumpkins are ready to harvest. We grow the Crown Prince and Queensland Blue varieties. They aren’t huge this year but they’re not going to grow any more now – in fact pumpkins don’t like the temperature to be below 18c so it’s a wonder that they grow at all.

For us it is a precious crop. Pumpkins store very well and are very versatile; we make them into pies, soups, cakes, hummus, curries and enjoy with pasta, pilafs and so on. The options are endless.

They also have many nutritional benefits, being high in antioxidants, vitamins and fibre. Each 100g of pumpkin provides 26 calories, no saturated fat or cholesterol, plenty of vitamin A – great for eyesight, vitamin C and B. So all in all it’s a great vegetable to include in your diet.

It’s delicious simply roasted as a side vegetable but it’s also the beginning part of many recipes, which transform it into something more substantial.

To celebrate the pumpkin harvest and with Halloween arriving at the end of this month it seems only fitting that this month’s recipe is for pumpkin. This recipe for filo pie is inspired by our recent holiday in Greece where the bakers are the masters of filo pies.

Filo is very easy to use. Just go to your local shop or supermarket and pick up a packet and follow the instructions below. Don’t worry if it breaks up a bit, just patch it up. It’s quite forgiving. If you think it sounds like too much bother we will be making it in the shop this month so you can pass by and pick some up if you want to try it without turning your oven on!

This recipe is for the dense orange flesh type pumpkin. Halloween pumpkins are too watery for this recipe so if you can’t find the hard skinned blue/grey variety it’s best to substitute a butternut squash.

Pumpkin Filo Pie

Ingredients:

750g pumpkin flesh

2 onions

200g feta cheese

2 eggs

half tsp ground cinnamon

about 200mls olive oil

salt and pepper

a packet of filo pastry – defrosted

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 180c.

Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into roughly 2cm cubes. Put the pumpkin onto a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle over the cinnamon and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. It doesn’t need to brown nor go crispy. Leave aside to cool .

Peel and chop the onions. Sautee gently in a little olive oil, until they soften and becomes translucent.

Crumble the feta onto the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together.

Stir in the cooked pumpkin and onion, giving it a bit of a mash as you go. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Oil a baking tray that is 20cm x 30xm and has about a 5cm rim. If you don’t have one of these try a large cake tin.

Open the packet of filo and carefully unroll it. Take the first sheet and lay it in the tin leaving the excess to hang over the edge of the tin. Brush with olive oil. Turn the tin and lay the next sheet so that the overhang is on the other side. Brush with oil Repeat this three times – there will now be six layers of filo.

Spread the pumpkin mix over the filo then cover with 4-5 sheets on top, brushing with olive oil between each sheet and tucking in some of the overhang as you go. This will make a rough parcel. Brush the top with olive oil. Score the top of the pie down the middle with a sharp knife then cut each half into four. This will ensure the tart can be sliced once baked.

Cook in a pre-heated oven 180c for 40- 60 minutes or until golden on top. Allow to cool for fifteen minutes before eating.

Happy Halloween

Karen

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