Rich Harris – Cookery Author

Rich Harris is a British chef, home economist and food stylist. He’s worked behind the scenes on some of the UK’s favourite cooking shows, including Masterchef, Great British Menu, Britain’s Best Dish and River Cottage to name just a few. You may also have spotted Rich on Waitrose’s very own TV channel, or in its magazine, where he also presents and writes.

After travelling to over 30 countries and working alongside many of the world’s most renowned chefs, Rich has experienced cooking inside some of the most high-pressured and exciting kitchens in the world.

Although he is a meat eater, Rich’s new book ‘Root and Leaf’ focuses solely on vegetable recipes,  as he attempts to encourage people to eat more vegetables and cut back on meat and fish. “So whether you’re a vegetarian, pescatarian or flexitarian, I want you to thumb through these pages and get excited about cooking with vegetables and the endless variety of flavours and textures that we have at our disposal if we make them the main event. I never thought I’d see myself getting genuinely excited about cooking solely with vegetables, but through the process of writing this book I’ve done exactly that”

Rich’s recipe for Pumpkin Pie

This American classic has been a favourite of mine since childhood when my mum would use those tins of pumpkin purée to make deep, rich pies loaded with plenty of nutmeg. I’ve tried to stay as true as possible to that same flavour, but prefer to use fresh pumpkin for a stronger flavour and more vibrant colour. My only slight tweak is to add a little almond extract to the pastry as it’s a flavour that pairs perfectly with sweet, nutty pumpkin.

150g lightly salted butter, softened
50g icing sugar, sifted 300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting.
2 medium egg yolks
1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
1 medium egg, beaten

750g peeled, deseeded and diced pumpkin
300g golden caster sugar
250ml evaporated milk 2 large eggs
3 medium egg yolks
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1⁄2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra to finish

For the pastry, put the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the flour and gently work together until the mixture starts to turn to a crumbly texture. Add the egg yolks and almond extract, then gently knead together with your hands to form a smooth ball. Pat out into a thin round, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Meanwhile, put the diced pumpkin into a large metal steamer basket set over a pan of boiling water, cover with a lid and steam for 20 minutes until tender. Tip out onto a tray lined with kitchen paper and leave to cool. Transfer the cooled pumpkin to a liquidiser, add the sugar, evaporated milk, whole eggs, egg yolks and spices and blend to a smooth purée. If you’ve got a powerful liquidiser it should do the job just fine, but if the mixture isn’t silky smooth, pass it through a fine sieve after puréeing.

Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4. Lightly dust the work surface with flour, then roll the pastry out into a large round about 5mm thick. Line a deep 24cm round pie tin with the pastry, leaving a little excess hanging over the edges. Scrunch a large sheet of greaseproof paper into a ball and then unroll it and lay on top of the pastry; this eliminates any sharp edges and saves having to push the paper down, which can tear the pastry case. Fill the lined pastry case with uncooked rice, dried beans or baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and rice or beans, brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160oC/gas mark 3. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pastry case and give it a gentle shake to even the surface. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until set with a slight wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Finely grate a light dusting of nutmeg over the surface of the pie, then cut into slices and serve.