Hal­low there

Anna Jones’s pumpkin dishes

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones Anna Jones is a chef, writer and author. Her lat­est book is The Mod­ern Cook’s Year (Fourth Es­tate); an­na­jones.co.uk; @we_are_­food

It’s pumpkin week. My early years in Cal­i­for­nia fos­tered a fas­ci­na­tion with all things Hal­loween, and as such I have a par­tic­u­lar af­fec­tion and won­der for pump­kins. Right now, the green­gro­cer’s shelves are groan­ing with more cook­ing va­ri­eties than you will see for the rest of the year, along with well-shaped, thin-skinned jacko’-lanterns for carv­ing.

I’ve had a huge, pale-green, crown prince squash sit­ting at the end of the kitchen ta­ble for a month – it will sit there in its or­na­men­tal beauty un­til I have the re­solve to hack into it. A pumpkin of this size needs a big sharp knife and a bit of at­ti­tude. But don’t be put off: the ad­van­tage of these harder-skinned win­ter squashes is that they hold their shape in the oven and are less wa­tery than the late sum­mer va­ri­eties. Their flavour is also more in­tense than sum­mer squashes, which suits this week’s pie down to the ground.

While these gi­ants of the veg­etable world will keep for months, the longer you store them for, the longer they will take to cook. They are also of­ten large enough to make an entire week’s worth of din­ners.

I cut huge ones into quar­ters and store the cut pumpkin in the fridge for soups, cur­ries, stews, this pie, or just a sim­ple roast­ing.

Avoid pump­kins that have been grown specif­i­cally for carv­ing at all costs if you want to cook with them. Trust me, I’ve tried to make them taste good! A nor­mal cook­ing pumpkin can still be eas­ily carved for Hal­loween and the scraped out flesh will make a quick, stel­lar soup that will be ready in the time it takes you to cre­ate a jack-o’-lantern.

I urge you to buy a pumpkin and cook with it this week. They are as­tound­ingly cheap, es­pe­cially in the days af­ter Hal­loween, and de­spite what you might think, you don’t need to be Ed­ward Scis­sorhands to tackle one.

Savoury gruyere and pumpkin pie

I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie as dessert, but this cheese-spiked ver­sion gets a lot of air­time in my kitchen.

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp olive oil

25g un­salted but­ter

1 onion, thinly sliced

450g pumpkin or but­ter­nut squash, peeled and cut into 15mm cubes

1 tsp co­conut or light brown su­gar 2 tsp bal­samic vine­gar

2 eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 lightly beaten egg, for brush­ing

Salt and black pep­per

120g gruyere, grated

25g parme­san, freshly grated (I use a veg­e­tar­ian one)

A small bunch of sage leaves, fried

For the pasty

300g plain flour, I use spelt

30g ched­dar, grated

150g un­salted but­ter, chilled, chopped

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