Cooking With Pumpkin: A Creative Challenge

The blandness of the pulp might seem like a limiting factor at first, but cooking with pumpkin is easy with the recipes creative cooks around the world have whipped up.
By Barbara Bambinger
September/October 1973
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Though their vines are prolific, cooking with pumpkin can be a challenge.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


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We may well have had the smallest pumpkin patch in Quebec last fall ... but even so, its productivity overwhelmed us. We'd never grown the crop before and hadn't expected the vines to proliferate so generously.

We were pleased with our success but at the same time in a quandary as to what could be done with our healthy harvest. How were two stomachs going to dispose of 21 "symbols of harvest" before the first frost? Making one jack-o'-lantern and giving three pumpkins to each of our two neighbors still left us with 14 offspring ... not enough to set up a stall in the market, but far too many to convert into pies.

To the rescue (for the thousand-and-first time) our French neighbor! ... who informed us that in the old country pumpkins are used to create delicate soufflés, hearty soups, intriguing main or side dishes, and an endless variety of desserts. Sure enough. With just a little effort, we soon found more pumpkin recipes from all over the world than we were able to try with only 14 of the delicious gourds.

Cooking with pumpkin is as rich in its challenge to creative cooks as pumpkin pulp is rich in vitamin A. Being rather bland, the pulp lends itself beautifully to stuffings, spice mixtures, and imaginative combinations. One pound serves two people generously.

To steam pumpkin, clean and peel the fruit and cut it into small pieces. Cook the chunks in a covered pan, along with a small amount of water, until they're tender ... 25-35 minutes. Serve the dish with butter and a dash of nutmeg, or mashed in place of potatoes.

To bake one of the gourds, slice it in half or cut a lid from its top, and clean out the inner seeds and pulp. Brush the inside with butter and sprinkle it with brown sugar or pumpkin spices. Set the golden globe in a 350° oven until it's tender ... about an hour if the fruit is whole, less if it's cut in small pieces.

Pumpkins can be used interchangeably in recipes which call for winter squash. Here are just a few of the many other possible ways to prepare this truly international comestible (all recipes serve six):

Sopa De Abobora

(Brazil)
Puree 1 1/2 cups of cooked pumpkin, place the pulp in the top of a double boiler and add:

  3 cups bouillon
  1/4 cup minced green pepper
  1/4 cup minced onion
  1 tsp. basil or chervil
  dash of nutmeg
  salt and pepper to taste

Heat the mixture over water until it boils. Combine and add:

  1 -1 /2 cups heavy cream
  3 egg yolks

Cook and stir the dish briefly until the desired thickness is reached. Serve it hot with croutons or fresh parsley garnish.

Jack-On-The-Table

Cut a lid from the top of a pumpkin and remove the seeds and strings as you would for a jack-o'-lantern. Brush the inside of the cavity with butter, replace the cover and bake the gourd at 350° for 40 minutes.

Baste the inside of the pumpkin with one-half of this warm mixture:

  1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
  1/4 cup honey
  1/4 cup apple juice
  1/2 tsp. fresh-ground nutmeg

Bake the "Jack" 40 minutes more, or until it's tender. Then place the pumpkin on the table and scoop out servings from the inside or cut the wall into wedges. Top each portion with some of the remaining warm butter mixture.

Calabaza con Arroz

(pumpkin with rice)
  2 cups cooked pumpkin (mashed)
  1 1/4 cups cooked rice
  1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  1/4 cup butter or rn<>
  2 Tbs. honey
  1 tsp. salt

Cook and stir these ingredients over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tumpa meo Protein

(Swedish pumpkin with protein)
Preheat the oven to 450°. Grease a baking dish and sprinkle it with fine
crumbs.
Combine:
  2 cups cooked pumpkin (mashed)
  2 cups cottage cheese
  2/3 cup honey
  2 eggs, slightly beaten
  1 tsp. cardamon
  1/2 tsp. each of clove, mace and ginger

Put these ingredients in the prepared dish and bake them 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325° and cook the pumpkin 40 to 50 minutes longer until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Pickled Pumpkin

Peel and cut into one-inch cubes:
  4 cups pumpkin pieces
Bring to a boil:
  1 cup sugar
  3/4 cup white vinegar
  1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  1/2 cinnamon stick, crushed
  6 whole cloves
  2 tsp. fresh-grated ginger

Add the pumpkin and cook the mixture slowly until it's tender ... about 45
minutes. Pour the pickle into a quart Mason jar, covet it tightly and
refrigerate the mixture.

Halloween Ice Cream

Cook and stir over gentle heat until well blended and hot but not boiling:
  1/2 cup milk
  1/4 cup honey
Combine:
  1 cup cooked pumpkin (mashed)
  1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt

Stir the milk and honey into the pumpkin and chill the mixture. Fold in:
  1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Freeze the ice cream until it's solid.

Kabak Tatlisi

(Turkish Pumpkin Dessert)
Peel, clean and cube a small pumpkin. Sprinkle it with 1 1/2 cups of brown
sugar ( or honey) and steam it gently in a small amount of water. Garnish the
dessert with a scoop of plain yogurt and chopped or ground walnuts.


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