Monday, 22 October 2007

Things That Go Pump In The Night

The time of the year has arrived when strange things happen. I don't mean ghosts and goblins appearing, or witches flying over your roof. I mean that tradition of carving out a delicious pumpkin and making a scary face, then putting a candle in it and walking around half of the night with it before throwing it in the bin. What a waste of delicious pumpkin!

Without sounding like a kill joy, I love getting involved at Halloween and carving out pumpkins with the kids. But imagine the amount of orange pumpkin flesh that sits on landfill sites each October!? Instead of giving it a sad send off, celebrate its final hours with a few simple dishes. It should already be half cooked after a good scorching off the candle!

Pumpkin is a really lovely versatile vegetable; mash it, roast it or churn it into a soup, either way it is a top vegetable. Take out the seeds and pan roast them with a few spices for a delicious nutty snack. It is also very child friendly. Any squash is, and it was one of the first vegetables I introduced to my daughter. So what timing for our friends at the Great Big Vegetable Challenge to be moving onto P for Pumpkin. Whilst young Freddie is out scaring everybody with his carved out pumpkin, he can have thoughts on some sensational pumpkin related meals courtesy of the family of kind Bloggers that are all linking on this day.

My pumpkin effort involves what could be another scary thing to a young child - a mussel. A spanking fresh mussel such as the hand picked mussels I used, picked that very day from Amble in Northumberland, are surprisingly brilliant accompaniments to a pumpkin. Both are sweet and earthy, and both have similar orange flesh. So they can compete against each other in the spicy crisp bacon and garlic flavoured sauce I enveloped them in with conchiglie pasta. I thought it was only right to serve something from the sea with a shell shaped pasta. Good luck Freddie. And whatever you do, don't be scared....

Spiced Pumpkin, Bacon and Mussel Conchiglie
Serves 2

200g of conchiglie pasta
5 rashers of smoked bacon, sliced into strips
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Leftovers of one halloween pumpkin, skinned and diced
1 tbsp olive oil
10 fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1 small glass of dry cider
Fresh chives, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese

1 - Bring a pan of water to the boil then add the pasta. Cook for 10 minutes.
2 - Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan with a lid. Add the bacon and cook until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
3 - Add the pumpkin to the oil and bacon fat and stir fry for 5-10 minutes until golden and cooked through.
4 - Add the shallots, chilli and garlic and stir for 1 minute. Turn up the heat then add the mussels and cider. Put on the lid and cook through for 5 minutes or until the mussels have fully opened. If any remain closed, throw them away.
5 - Tip in the drained pasta then the crisp bacon, a good grinding of black pepper and a handful of fresh chives. It should not need salt because of the bacon.
6 - Serve in large bowls with more fresh chives and some Parmesan cheese.


Julia said...

I'm loving the idea of celebrating the pumpkin's last hours, great post!

Anonymous said...

David - How can anyone be scared of the friendly pumpkin?
I love the idea of the mussels with the pumpkin. This is a great combination. Freddie loves mussels. ( I have never understood the logic of someone who can hate vegetables but eat all the strangest crustaceans and fish)
Anyhow - a very big THANK YOu from Freddie and Alex for this recipe.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

David, brilliant combination here! Mussels & pumpkin is genius. And of course, the bacon just sweetens the deal. Thanks for another great idea - can't wait to make this!

Aimée said...

You make a good point here, David. I am not one for wasting either.
Thanks for stopping by my blog- I had lost the link to yours but I'm back now!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

hee hee - love the title!

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