Not a dull vegetable though- not at all.
I was in the staff room last week and the conversation turned to pumpkin carving - in readiness for Hallowe'en. This is not my field of expertise, so I kept quiet. I couldn't hide a gasp of horror though when one colleague said : 'Make sure you throw away all that stuff in the middle though before it starts to smell the place out!'
That 'stuff in the middle' is FOOD! And delicious at that.
To prove it, this week's blog is dedicated to the pumpkin (but you can substitute sweet potato or butternut squash for any of the recipes.)
Many people think pumpkin is a watery, bland veg- but, like courgettes, aubergines and many other 'watery' vegetables - they become a different beast altogether if you simply roast them. The caramelization and addition of flavours ( garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes if you want) transform this from mushy to marvellous in a short space of time.
Just place the slices in a baking tray with lots of seasoning and a good glug of oil and roast for 20 mins or so until tender and beginning to brown. (I roast squashes with the skin on- but if it's already peeled because you hollowed it out, that's still fine for roasting.)
Once roasted, you can use the flesh in a variety of dishes, but the slices are a tasty accompaniment to roast meat just as they are. Pork and pumpkin are great partners.
Divide what you have left into two halves- one for rough chopping and one for ricing (if you have a pototo ricer) or mashing if you don't.
The chopped flesh is good in curries- here I've made a pumpkin and red pepper curry. Simply fry a chopped onion, and a roughly chopped red pepper. Add some jalfrezi or korma paste (or your own blend of spices) and mix it in. Pour in 1/2 can of coconut milk and 300ml of vegetable stock, add the pumpkin flesh (and I like to stir in some spinach leaves too) and simmer for 10 minutes until the flavours are blended. Serve with rice and accompaniments (here an onion bhajia).
|Pumpkin and Pepper Curry|
It is equally good in soups. I've made a spiced pumpkin and parsnip soup here: again fry a chopped onion and mix in a spoonful of curry paste, add the pumpkin and parsnips, a litre and 1/2 of vegetable stock and simmer for 25 mins until the vegetables are very soft and the flavours have mixed. Blitz until smooth and creamy. Add a blob of creme fraiche and some poppy seeds, if you have them (or roasted pumpkin seeds would be better). If you're clever you can make the cream into a spooky spider web pattern using a cocktail stick to move it around. I tried- but it doesn't show up so well in the photo. Perhaps because it wasn't very good!
|Spiced Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup|
The riced or mashed flesh is good mixed with mashed potato as the thatch for a cottage pie. Here I have a couple of pies bubbling under the grill:
|Pumpkin Thatched Cottage Pies|
Looks like my oven could do with a pre-Christmas clean-up!
Finally, try pumpkin gnocchi. The riced flesh mixed with lots of seasoning, an egg yolk (freeze the white for another dish) and a 2 tablespoons of flour makes a soft dough. Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil and then drop little walnut-sized patties of the dough into the water. In a very few minutes they rise to the surface and are cooked.
You can eat them like this- simply drizzled with melted butter and fried sage, or grated parmesan, or both. Or you can freeze them and bring them out (defrost thoroughly) - then re-fry in olive oil or butter- to serve with duck or chicken or pork (well, with anything really.) They are genius.
So- pumpkin: scary or scrumptious? You decide.