The trick and treat of pumpkin dishes: smaller varieties are much easier to prepare

Gráinne O’Keefe: Crown Prince and Hokkaido are much less of a horror show to prep and they taste better, too

Pumpkin is often associated with Halloween, more specifically, pumpkin carving, a tradition that originally started with turnips. Pumpkin is the last sign of autumn, its vibrancy being a last dash of colour that leads us into winter.

It’s common to see pumpkin and squash on menus in restaurants at this time of year, usually paired with sage and nuts and lots of cheese. Pumpkin risotto is one of my favourites, paired with some blue cheese to balance the natural sweetness of the cooked pumpkin. It’s this natural sweetness that makes it so versatile, and one of the few vegetables that make a great dessert as well as savoury dishes.

People can be put off buying pumpkins due to the laborious nature of preparing them, but the trick is to buy smaller varieties such as the Crown Prince or Hokkaido. They are much easier to prepare and you can even eat the skin. I also prefer their flavour to that of regular pumpkins, and you can find them quite easily in most good food shops.

Using thin slices of baked pumpkin instead of pasta sheets is a great way to make a gluten-free lasagne, and the natural sweetness works great in this dish, providing a contrast of flavours.


The baked pumpkin dish is perfect as a side, or even as a dish on its own. You can swap out any of the fillings and change the cheese if you aren’t a blue cheese fan. Goat’s cheese pairs really well, as would a smoked cheddar.

Pumpkin purée is a very American ingredient, and can be found in shops such as Lotts & Co and Fallon & Byrne, as well as online, or you can make your own. Velvet Cloud sheep’s milk yogurt is delicious with the pumpkin tart, adding a slightly savoury note to counteract the sweetness.

It is time to say a huge thank you to all who have read my recipes here over the past year. It has been an incredible experience and a pleasure to see you cooking my recipes and enjoying them at home. I hope to be back writing some time in the future (when I am perhaps a little less busy).

Recipe: Pumpkin and beef short rib lasagne

Recipe: Roasted pumpkin stuffed with orzo and blue cheese

Recipe: Pumpkin tart with Velvet Cloud sheep’s milk yogurt