The case of the mysterious pumpkin
Posted by Su J Bray
Last Saterday I brought a trophy home from the market! An enormous green crenulated pumpkin – at least 34cm in diameter. Gert Jan was sure it was edible, some suspected it was only decorative, none knew what it looked like inside, what colour the flesh would be or whether it even tasted good! It was clear that this huge pumpkin was a bit of a mystery. Gert Jan generously gave it to me as it was lingering forlornly looking more like something from outer space and didn’t look like it would have any takers. I promised to let him know how GP (Green Pumpkin) and I got on!
I love dabbling and trying new things out in the kitchen, so my Sunday morning was spent documenting this adventure.
“It’s grey”, my daughter What’s Apped back to me! That was the first observation…
The verdict: it is orange inside! Not green! And… it bakes easily and tastes wonderful. I recently discovered that the green pumpkins with orangey stripes sold on the stall have a more intense flavor than the regular orange ones and GP has an even richer, more mellow flavor redolent of the pumpkin used in traditional home made pumpkin pies. Best of the bunch! Skin and seeds taste same as other pumpkins.
My penchant for pumpkins!: At the moment, I rarely eat grains. For the past few months, I’ve been on a concerted drive to rebalance my digestive flora, and the “bad guys” just love grain carbs. Instead, we have found pumpkins and squash to be a brilliant, delicious, nutritious and satisfying alternative. So every week I buy 2 or 3, bake them in one go, blend them, flavor them and then we’re good to go for smoothies, soups, and side dishes for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the rest of the week. Easy peasy! Much easier than cutting the skin off raw and cubing before steaming! And it’s always to hand.
So I figured I’d try the same treatment with GP. This is my method for all pumpkins and squash:
Easiest way to bake a pumpkin:
- Wash outside of skin from soil and particles
- Make deep inserts in skin at intervals around the pumpkin/squash. This allows heat to penetrate while baking.
- Cut in half, place cut side down on baking tray and bake at around 180 (circovan oven) for around 1 hour. Regular size pumpkins or squash I do whole. No need to oil.
- Test for “doneness”with knife or skewer. And remove from oven when done.
- Cut in half and scoop pumpkin seeds out and discard - or keep for “pepitas” (here with smaller pumpkin).
- Scoop flesh out – it comes off the skin pretty easily. You can either put it in fridge at this stage. Or blend with spices and oil which gives a creamier consistency.
- When blending, (I found food processor easiest) I add cinnamon. This means I can go either way with dishes – sweet or savoury. I add some form of oil or fat for texture, flavor and richness. I also love to get a variety of fats and oils in each day as they’re so healthful. If it’s warm when I blend I add ghee and/or virgin cold pressed coconut butter. Otherwise organic virgin olive oil for example. Don’t use processed oils or transfats.
Useful tips and suggested recipes for using this blended baked pumpkin:
- Winter latte: blend with gently heated home made almond milk (or your preferred alternative), cream from Lindenhoff, winter spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves), vanilla, coconut butter. I can give you the recipe if anyone would like it.
- Eat cold with a drizzle of some cold pressed organic oil and dried seaweed sprinkles (I love Salade du Pecheur by Lima, but crushed nori sheets will work too)
- If you have any firmer parts in the pumpkin after baking, slice it instead of pureeing, sautee in a little ghee and use instead of toast for example or as a base for cream cheese and honey.
- Use for a face mask! Yes, it’s true. It has amazing exfoliating properties: http://thebeautybean.com/skin-2/pumpkin-recipes-for-your-skin-3-face-body-treats-you-can-make-at-home
Do you have any favourite pumpkin recipes? And what do you do with your skins and seeds?
Su J Bray