Halloween, usually an excuse for outrageous outfits and equally outrageous behaviour, but for me and excuse to mess about and get a bit creative in the kitchen. I’ve always done something for October 31st, especially during half-term holidays from school. Various successes of course, and as great as my ghost shaped pizza was, the cold, blue spaghetti designed to look like intestines that I came up with one year, was an unmitigated disaster- a true horror story!

This year, after carving the usual face out of the pumpkin, I decided to make a pumpkin risotto with what was left, and here’s how:

  1. Scoop out all the insides from the pumpkin, separating the flesh and the seeds. Take whatever flesh you can from the pumpkin, being careful not to take too much from the structure.
  2. With the seeds, spread them out onto an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and a generous dash of salt. Cook in the oven at 180c for about 10 minutes, until they start to crisp up a bit. Leave on the side to cool.
  3. Dice the pumpkin flesh into big chunks. Using the same tray, put the diced pumpkin flesh on, and roast, again for about 10-15 minutes until they start to soften and cook through.
  4. In the meantime start the Risotto rice. Finely chop an onion and sweat down in some oil in a pan. When soft, add the rice, allowing about 75-100g per person, depending on how hungry you are! Gradually add chicken stock, adding a little at a time so it just covers the rice. When it is absorbed, keep adding, and repeat the process until the rice is almost cooked through.
  5. Usually risottos can have white wine added to them for extra flavour. This time however, and keeping with the Halloween ‘spirit’ (pardon the pun), I finished with Hobgoblin ruby ale, from the Whychwood brewery in Oxfordshire. It adds a lovely colour and depth of flavour to the dish. Again, use just enough to cover the rice, and once this is absorbed the rice should be ready. Warm the diced pumpkin through in the oven.
  6. Put half the diced pumpkin in and stir through. Serve the risotto in bowls, garnish with the rest of the diced pumpkin and scatter the toasted seeds on top.
  7. Turn your lights off, put the candle in your pumpkin, and enjoy.