Someone was asking me recently for ideas for new ways to roast pumpkin. They were a bit tired of simply seasoning and roasting, and since pumpkin is abundant at the moment, in many different varieties, I thought a couple of dishes would be good.

Soup is my go-to usually if I have a pumpkin to cook, but even then I prefer roasting it first to give a better depth of flavour. With smaller buttercup pumpkins, I like to leave the skin on and roast it sliced quite thin. This gives a crisp edge, and it's a great side dish for your roast or for any meal that needs veges on the side.

Roast pumpkin can easily be the star of a meal though. The cinnamon-roasted pumpkin here with feta and walnuts makes a lovely side dish, but for a complete meal simply add a handful of your favourite greens, maybe a grain of some sort, and a simple dressing.

Delicious.

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Cinnamon and sea salt roast pumpkin with walnuts and feta

½ a crown pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2-3cm chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp flaky sea salt
To serve:
¼ cup lightly toasted fresh NZ walnuts
50g feta

Heat the oven to 185C and line a roasting tray with baking paper. Place the pumpkin in a single layer.

Whisk together the olive oil, honey, and maple syrup or honey. Drizzle over the pumpkin, then sprinkle over the cinnamon. Give it a gentle toss, then sprinkle over the sea salt.

Roast for 30-35 minutes until golden.

To serve, sprinkle with the lightly toasted walnuts and the feta.

The maple/honey and cinnamon play up to the pumpkin's sweetness, so pair it with dishes that need something a little sweet. For as easy salad, add some salad greens and a simple dressing.

Miso glazed pumpkin with coriander

 Miso glazed pumpkin with coriander. Photo / Greg Bowker
Miso glazed pumpkin with coriander. Photo / Greg Bowker

Tbsp miso paste
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
Small pinch chilli powder
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the buttercup in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 1 cm slices and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper.

Whisk the miso, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and chilli, together in a small jug or bowl. Using a pastry brush, rub the glaze on both sides of the pumpkin.

Cook for about 25 minutes until golden brown - some of the glaze may burn slightly on the tray, so make sure you line your tray. Using tongs, turn the pieces over part way through if you wish.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh coriander.

HOW TO BLIND BAKE PASTRY

Blind baking is one of those instructions you'll often see in recipes, but you may not have any idea why or how to do it. In my younger days I made the mistake of blind baking with rice, although I didn't line the shell with paper properly, so I had uncooked rice cooked all through my mini pastry tart cases. To avoid such disasters, there are a few key pointers.

Essentially, blind baking (sometimes called pre-baking) is the process of cooking a pastry shell before filling. For American style pies, or a basic bannoffee pie, you'd use the method to make your own pie crust before filling it cold. You can do it with sweet or savoury pastry. You do it either for a fully pre-prepared shell, or when a filling requires far less cooking time than the crust. Soggy pastry is no-one's friend.

First, grease your pie mould (or muffin pans). Line with baking paper, and then lay out the pastry.

There are many good and simple pastry recipes around, including easy ones using a food processor. Otherwise, you can use fresh or frozen store-bought stuff (some are better than others - look for ones that use real butter). Line your tart shell with the pastry, pressing down the edges.

Next up is docking - the act of pricking the bottom with a fork. This keeps the bottom of the pastry shell crisp by allowing steam to be removed, and prevent the pastry from puffing up too much.

Next, cover the pastry with baking paper, leaving plenty of an edge (for easy removal). Press down so it is well covering the pastry, then you want to add your weights.

You can buy pie weights, but anything that will keep it weighed down without cooking will work - dried beans or rice work well (if you've lined your tart shell properly). Pour in the weights or rice, and fill to the top.

Bake your shell for the required time, and when removing be careful to lift out the paper and weights, as they'll be hot. Your shell is now ready to fill with whatever you heart desires (or whatever your recipe states).