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Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

 

Taking the Pumpkin Out of the Pie

by Kate Heyhoe

Squash

About this time of year I see enough pumpkin pies to almost turn orange. Pies are fine, but all sweetness aside, I remind readers that pumpkins are first and foremost a hard-skinned squash. Not to say that they shouldn't be mashed and pummeled into pies, but experiencing the vegetable as a true vegetable, without gobs of sugar and whipped cream, can be most refreshing.

What else do people do with pumpkins, besides carve silly faces on them and sweeten them up?

Ken Hom, in his book Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood, recalls his mother making stir-fried pumpkin with black bean sauce. "Out of necessity," he recalls, "we learned to adopt local American vegetables and adapt them to our taste. My mother stir-fried and then braised pumpkin until it was tenderŠSometimes she would add a small amount of fried ground beefŠWhile my American schoolmates were using pumpkin for their Halloween jack-o-lanterns, at home we were enjoying this treat. It was like having their pumpkins and eating mine, too."

The Joy of Pickling, by Linda Ziedrich, contains a recipe for pickled pumpkin, which she says "may especially please people who like the flavor but not the mushy texture of cooked pumpkin or squashŠthe texture of the pumpkin remains firm and crisp, and the pumpkin flavor is enhanced but disguised."

A German recipe for Sweet Pickled Pumpkin, from the same book, spices up the squash with orange zest, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger.

Squash permeates Mediterranean cuisines, according to author Clifford Wright, author of Mediterranean Vegetables. Pumpkin apparently met the Mediterranean countries through Spain, which of course brought it from the New World. He notes that Sicilians and Southern Italians treat the pumpkin as they would any side dish, cooking it with ricotta salada, olives, anchovies, and capers.

In North Africa, Tunisian Jews purée pumpkin with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, caraway, coriander, and a splash of hot harisa, serving it with warm flatbreads. Lebanese and Syrians prepare a version of hummus without the chickpeas, using pumpkin instead, which has a flavor most compatible with the sesame seed paste known as tahini.

The point is: Treat the pumpkin as a savory squash and you'll be most rewarded. And don't just stop with pumpkin. Butternut is a squash valued for its intense and sweet flavor, and another squash that is particularly sweet as a vegetable is the Japanese kabochka squash. Below are a few pumpkin pie-less recipes, that are in a word, smashing.

 

Recipes

Corn Chowder in Miniature Pumpkin Shells

Fried Pumpkin, Italian Style

Pumpkin and Spinach Ravioli with Sage Butter

Risotto with Pumpkin and Leeks

Thai Pumpkin and Coconut Cream Soup

Two-Way Pumpkin Yeast Dough

and:

Smashing Pumpkins...and Other Culinary Acts (Basic Pumpkin Info)

 

Kate's Global Kitchen for October 2002:
10/04/02     Ukrainian Mushroom Feasts
10/11/02     Tarka, Ghee and Me: Quick Warm Ups with Indian Spices
10/18/02     New Zealand Spinach, or Bushy Warrigal Greens
10/25/02     Taking the Pumpkin Out of the Pie

 

Copyright © 2002, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

 

Copyright © 2002, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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