When life gives you pumpkins

Sometimes, life gives you pumpkins. In our vege patch this summer, we ended up with a rogue pumpkin plant that gave us 3 small but delicious pumpkins. I’m not entirely sure, but I think they were Golden Nugget pumpkins. And they were definitely the nicest pumpkins we’ve grown in the last few years.

Anyway, when faced with a bounty of unexpected pumpkins, you have to think of something to do with them. They were too small to make much pumpkin soup, so one I roasted alongside potatoes and a chicken for a delicious roast dinner. Another went into a curry. But the third made us a delicious meal combined with lamb, green beans and almonds. The recipe was a hybrid, combining the best parts of two Donna Hay recipes: one for a roast pumpkin and couscous salad (from her cookbook The New Cook), and the other for lamb with couscous and spiced almonds (from Simple Dinners). The result was a delicious autumn meal!

Lamb and pumpkin couscous with spiced almonds

Serves 4

1 small pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 and 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for brushing
120g blanched almonds
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbs honey
2 X 250g lamb loin/backstrap
sea salt and black pepper to taste
400g (2 c) instant couscous
2 c water
50g butter
1/2 c mint leaves, roughly chopped
150g green beans, trimmed
Tzatziki to serve

Preheat oven to 200C.

Toss the pumpkin with 1/2 tsp cumin and 2 tbs olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt, and spread out on baking tray. Roast for 20-30 minutes until tender.

Toss almonds and sesame seeds with 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp cumin and honey and spread out on non stick baking paper on a tray. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Cool slightly and break or chop into rough pieces.

Brush meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side in grill pan or frying pan over high heat, or to liking. Rest for 5 minutes then slice.

Cover green beans with water and microwave for a couple of minutes to blanch (or steam or boil until bright green but still crisp).

Place couscous into heatproof bowl. Boil 2 c water and pour over couscous, swirl to mix. Add butter, cover and stand for 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Toss couscous with pumpkin and green beans. Divide between plates. Top with sliced lamb and scatter with mint and spiced nuts.

Serve with tzatziki if desired.

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