Perfect pumpkin recipes to make before Hallowe'en

Sweet or savoury, the options for squash are endless, so try my favourite ideas for bakes, cakes, and seasonal warm salads

Pumpkin and beetroot salad
Pumpkin flesh works in both sweet and savoury dishes Credit: Haarala Hamilton and Valerie Berry

It’s the season for pumpkins and what a fabulous vegetable they are to cook with. They’re versatile, going in sweet and savoury dishes in a pinch, and work well with the spices we crave at the time of year – ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. I think the mild sweetness brings out those flavours.

Pay attention to what kind you buy. Avoid large, Hallowe’en-style pumpkins for carving, as they’ll be watery and flavourless. The smaller varieties – bluey-green-skinned ironbarks, Italian delica and crown prince – work best for cooking. The flesh is much sweeter and packed with flavour.

You can leave the peel on or off; I peel mine to make pumpkin soups or the pumpkin custard pie here, cutting them into large chunks first and then taking to them with a normal vegetable peeler. But when roasting pumpkins (or even puréeing the roasted flesh afterwards), you just need to cut them into wedges, wrap in foil with a head of garlic, olive oil and a sprig of rosemary, and roast until tender and fragrant.

Pumpkin in sweet dishes is definitely something we’ve borrowed from the USA, where pumpkin pie is a staple of Thanksgiving dinners – though you do see pumpkin paired with sweet flavours in Italy. In Mantova, pumpkin tortelli is often dusted with crushed amaretti biscuits to add a bit of sweetness. I love the dense sweetness that pumpkin brings to sweet dishes, much like carrot.

Warm seasonal salads like pumpkin and artichoke – or the pumpkin and beetroot salad below – are also on regular rotation in my kitchen. With a few chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds on top, it’s perfect for a lunch enjoyed in the golden autumn sun.