Pumpkin

Pumpkin

Winter squash

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Historically, pumpkin is from the most ancient of vegetable families, the gourds, which were eaten in soups in Europe well before America and its pumpkins were discovered. There are many varieties of pumpkins, of all shapes and sizes. Some are available almost throughout the entire year; others wait for the first frosts before being harvested, when they are said to keep better and to have a sweeter flesh. Look for golden nuggets (minikin squash), Japanese and Queensland blues.

Pumpkin has a sweetish, nutty flavour which may be enhanced with herbs, cheese or spices, as in the traditional pumpkin pie. A dash of grated nutmeg is good with mashed pumpkin, too.

Whole pumpkins may be stuffed with bread, cheese, cream and seasonings and baked in the oven for a couple of hours; if the mixture is more liquid, the result is thick pumpkin soup in its own tureen. Small butternut pumpkins (squash), halved and the centre flesh and seeds removed, may be parboiled and used as a ‘cup’ for another vegetable, such as spinach or broccoli.

Pumpkin soup – whether cooked in the pumpkin or not – is always a winter favourite; in some Asian countries it is made with coconut milk and flavoured with coriander (cilantro) and shallots.

To cook: Pumpkin may be boiled, steamed or baked. Steaming is usually preferable to boiling, unless the pumpkin is to be mashed afterwards, since it will keep its shape better and not become waterlogged. Pumpkin is generally peeled before it is cooked, although the skin of some varieties (such as butternut) is edible when young.

Baked pumpkin: Cook with roast meat, if the tin is large enough. Roll pumpkin pieces in meat drippings, arrange around meat and cook for 30–45 minutes. Otherwise, cook in a separate tin with 1–2 tablespoons oil or dripping.

Boiled pumpkin: Cook pieces of pumpkin, not too small, in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, dry briefly over heat then toss with butter and chopped fresh parsley. Alternatively, mash with butter and seasonings to taste.

Pumpkin is often mashed with potato, which can absorb some of the excess moisture from the pumpkin. The pumpkin needs less cooking time, and should be added to the pan about 5 minutes after potato.

Steamed pumpkin: Place even-size pieces of pumpkin in steaming basket and steam for about 10–15 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, cook in 5 mm water over high heat, but make sure the pan does not boil dry.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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