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Recipes for the Planet, Your Bank Account and Your Belly

If you’ve seen David Attenborough’s most recent release, A Life on Our Planet, you are likely suffering the weight of a guilty conscience as you consider the inevitable impacts of a modern human existence. Although changing our food habits is the simplest way for us to individually create change and alleviate this guilt, making the switch to ethical and sustainable food choices can often feel incompatible with the budgets and cramped kitchens of student life. These flexible recipes aim to tackle this and maximise seasonal produce to create sustainable, affordable and delicious dishes for you to enjoy.  

This month, I have taken inspiration from the often-neglected pumpkin, an affordable and versatile gem that deserves more than its usual relegation to soup. With more than half of the UK’s pumpkins going uneaten annually and Covid-19 limiting this year’s Halloween celebrations, make sure to save your local pumpkins from dying a wasted death in landfill. 

Pumpkin Spaghetti  (2 portions)

Ingredients

  • One small pumpkin (or approximately a third of a standard carving pumpkin) 
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Three cloves of garlic 
  • Dried or fresh herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary and oregano pair best with pumpkin here) 
  • Any seasonal leafy greens (kale, leeks, rocket etc.) 
  • 180g spaghetti or pasta 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C / 180°C fan. 
  1. De-seed your pumpkin and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. 
  1. Roast the pumpkin seeds now or save to make as a snack later (as below).   
  1. Take your sharpest knife and chop the pumpkin into 2-3cm chunks. 
  1. Spread evenly on a baking tray with salt, pepper, two cloves of garlic (still in the skin), any herbs you have to hand and a generous coating of olive oil.  
  1. Roast for 25 minutes, or until soft but not yet crispy and golden. 
  1. In the meantime, boil your pasta in some salty water following packet instructions. 
  1. Add your greens and remaining garlic to a frying pan with some olive oil, seasoning and a splash of boiling water. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until wilted. 
  1. To create the sauce, blend the roasted pumpkin and garlic (skin removed) with 1 tbsp of olive oil in a food processor (otherwise mash with a fork). Add generous amounts of pasta water until you achieve a saucy consistency.   
  1. Combine the sauce and spaghetti, then serve with your garlicky greens on top (and roasted pumpkin seeds if desired).  

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C / 180°C fan. 
  1. Rinse the seeds in a colander and remove as much stringy flesh as possible. 
  1. Optional: Boil in salty water for ten minutes to remove remaining flesh. 
  1. Dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. 
  1. Coat in olive oil and your preferred seasoning (I like coriander, chilli flakes, garlic salt and paprika). 
  1. Spread evenly on a tray and roast for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until golden (depending on size), stirring halfway through. 
  1. Enjoy as a healthy snack or garnish! 

Tips 

  • Eat with friends – cooking together saves money and avoids waste. 
  • Shop at your local greengrocer – produce is usually locally sourced, seasonal and plastic-free. 
  • Avoid your plastic-wrapped veg – nature often creates its own packaging.  
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