It’s that time of year again, and across much of the Western world today millions of children will be carving pumpkins and going from door to door on the hunt for candy. And what’s even scarier than ghosts and witches? Food waste. While around a third of all food produced globally goes to waste, this figure creeps as high as two-thirds for Halloween pumpkins, which are cut up and thrown away as disposable accessories to a costume party, and almost never appreciated for what they are: a delicious—and seasonal—product of agriculture! In the UK alone, as many as 15 million pumpkins may be thrown out: enough to feed everyone in the country.
There are so many reasons to make a concerted effort to reduce our food waste, both collectively and individually: it saves us money, helps mitigate the effects of severe environmental problems like climate change, and just as importantly, opens up a world of tasty food that we might otherwise ignore. And even in the case of those gigantic carving pumpkins which, admittedly, have not been selected for their sensory qualities: they can still be useful, whether they’re fed to animals or decomposed as food for the soil.
In occasion of this year’s All Hallow’s Eve, we present to you one such way to make use of all that excess pumpkin you’ve got lying around, courtesy of Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance member in Albania, Altin Prenga (there is a also a video of him cooking a similar recipe).
Grated pumpkin, fresh cream, fresh thyme, feta cheese, olive oil, byrek (preferably filo dough), salt, garlic, broth (either vegetable or chicken).
The grated pumpkin should be first softened to a sort of roasted, concentrated puree by putting in the oven at 160° for an hour, with olive oil and salt. This can last as long as a week in the fridge. The filo dough or whatever pastry you have should, once rolled out in a pan or skillet, be toasted with some olive and garlic for a minute. We then add a little broth, the pumpkin puree, the fresh thyme, grated feta cheese and fresh cream. These should be heated on the pan or skillet just as long as it takes for the byrek or pastry to absorb the sauce, then fold it over and the byrek is ready to serve. Repeat until your guests are full!