Veggie of the month: Pumpkin Image credit: Jan and John Whitford

Pumpkins come in all different sizes, colours and flavours. Varieties are usually harvested in autumn and will keep well throughout the winter months.

Butternut is an Australian favourite: its thin buff-coloured skin is easy to peel and its deep orange flesh is sweet and dense.

Jap pumpkin, also known as Kent or Kabocha, is an Asian variety of winter squash and has ribbed green skin splattered with yellow blotches and sweet orange flesh that's softer than a butternut.

In most recipes, it's fine to substitute butternut for Jap and vice versa. Look for them in your local farmers market or maybe even have a go at growing your own for some unusual and beautiful heirloom varieties of pumpkin.  

Health benefits:

Pumpkin is one of the best plant sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant which your body converts to vitamin A. Your body needs vitamin A for healthy immune function, which includes warding off winter bugs.

Best ways to prepare:

Roasting pumpkin really brings out its sweet flavour. Cut into chunks or wedges, toss with a little olive oil and season with sea salt. Add your favourite herbs or spices and some onion wedges if you like. Roast in a hot oven until tender and slightly charred around the edges, and then choose what you'd like to do with it next.
Toss through pasta, add to risotto, serve as a side dish, puree and then thin with vegetable stock to make a quick soup, or leave to cool to room temperature and toss with rocket, avocado, toasted walnuts and a balsamic dressing for a fabulous salad. 

For more seasonal vegetables and fruit see Food Guide - What's in season