Hello readers, today I am covering pumpkin, also known as winter squash! It seems to be everywhere at the moment so I thought I’ll go over different types of pumpkin/squash and give you some ideas of what you can do with it in the kitchen.
All pumpkins are a type of winter squash and are also related to zucchini. It’s a very versatile vegetable used all around the world and is super popular around Halloween and Thanksgiving. Most of the pumpkin parts can be used – sweet, nutty orange flesh, the seeds, flowers and even the skin is delicious when roasted.
There are many types of pumpkin and winter squash but the most commonly used varieties are:
1. Butternut pumpkin, also known as butternut squash outside of Australia and New Zealand – mildly sweet and nutty flavour and bright orange flesh.
2. Kent pumpkin also known as Jap/Japanese pumpkin – sweeter than most other varieties. I personally love this variety and it’s great in soups.
3. Golden nugget – it has a mild flavour and a high ratio of seeds to flesh making it ideal for carving and hollowing out. It can be stuffed and baked.
4. Queensland Blue – it has a tasty, deep orange flesh and it keeps really well. It can be roasted, boiled and mashed. A common variety is Ironbark.
5. Gem squash – more of a summer squash and also known as cannon balls. These are more common in South Africa and can be stuffed and baked, boiled and roasted.
Basic cooking methods
Most pumpkin varieties can be roasted or baked (whole and unpeeled squash for about 1 1/2 -2 hours, cut up and peeled for about 30 minutes, both at 375-390F), grilled (peeled and cut into 1-2 inch slices or cubes should be cooked for about 20 minutes), boiled (whole for 1 hour, cut up and peeled for 10-15 minutes), mashed, pureed, used in baking (grated raw or added as cooked puree) and in stewed dishes like curries and casseroles (10-15 minutes for the pumpkin to cook).
Then there is also spaghetti squash, which when cooked can be scraped into translucent, mild-flavoured, spaghetti like strands. You can cook it by baking, steaming or boiling the whole squash in skin and then cutting in half, removing seeds and scraping the ‘noodles’. Baking is probably the best – at 375 F (190 C) for about an hour.
Pumpkin is very nutritious and contains lots of be beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in our bodies, a powerful antioxidant. It’s also full of dietary fibre, vitamins C and E and potassium. Fresh pumpkin is always best but naturally preserved canned pumpkin is a great alternative and still contains many of the nutrients.
Season for pumpkin in Australia – summer and autumn (Dec – May), in USA and Europe - northern autumn and winter.
20 ways to use pumpkin in the kitchen (my round up of favourite recipes)
1. Simple roasted winter squash
Peel (or leave the peel on) and cut the squash/pumpkin into 1 cm wedges; toss in some melted ghee or coconut oil, about 2 tbsp, sea salt, ground black pepper and rosemary. Place on a baking paper or foil lined try, 1-2 centimeters apart and roast for 30 minutes, flipping them over half way through cooking time. You can try it with other hardy herbs like sage or thyme instead of rosemary. I like to throw in a few unpeeled cloves of garlic at the same time.
3. Dukkah crusted pumpkin with sliced beef, rocket salad and tahini dressing
4. Pumpkin & halloumi salad with pine nuts
Peel and cut pumpkin into small cubes and pan fry in some coconut oil or ghee for 4-5 minutes on each side, on low-medium heat. Remove to a plate and add a small handful of pine nuts to the same pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until slight browned and toasted. Toss pumpkin and pine nuts with fresh rocket, grilled halloumi or aged grated Parmesan cheese (omit if avoiding dairy), add some finely sliced Spanish onion and dress it all up with mustard, lemon and olive oil dressing. Super simple!
5. Roasted spiced pumpkin with sun-dried tomatoes (image at the top)
Roast wedges of pumpkin as in #1 except leave out the rosemary. Once roasted, sprinkle the wedges with dukkah spice (I get a premade mix) and finely sliced semi-dried or full sun-dried tomatoes and pumpkin seeds.
8. Spaghetti squash with garlic, parsley and butter
Bake whole spaghetti squash for 1 hour at 375 F (190C). Cool and cut in half, remove seeds and scrape with a fork to produce thin, spaghetti like strands. Then heat 1 1/2 tbsp of butter (or ghee if avoiding dairy as it is pretty much all fat and safe for those avoiding milk products) until medium hot and add 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic. Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is softened and just slightly browned, and then add 1-2 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley and the cooked spaghetti squash. Season with black pepper and sea salt and stir through. For those allowing some safe dairy, add 1-2 tbsp of grated aged Parmesan cheese or sheep’s milk Pecorino cheese. Amazing!
10. Make sage & pumpkin mash
Peel and dice 1kg of pumpkin and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat and cook on medium for 12-15 minutes, until tender. Drain and return to saucepan.
While pumpkin is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a small frying pan until medium hot. Add about 15 fresh sage leaves and 2 garlic cloves and cook until the sage leaves have crisped up. Season with a little salt and nutmeg. Remove the leave and add the ghee with garlic to the cooked pumpkin. Mash together and season with a little extra salt and pepper. Add the leaves to the mashed pumpkin and stir through. You can add a little crispy bacon on top.
11. Make a super simple 20 minute pumpkin curry
- 1/2 kent or butternut pumpkin/squash
- 1/2 brown onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (can be replaced with a little sea salt)
- 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- 1/2 lime, juice
- 1 tsp coconut oil
Cook onion in coconut oil until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin, garlic, curry powder, fish sauce, vegetable stock and coconut milk. Bring to boil and turn to medium heat. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until tender. Finally season with a little extra sea salt and fresh lime juice.
12. Make leek & pumpkin frittata
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 leek, diced pale part only
- 1/2 kent or butternut pumpkin/squash
- 2/3 cup vegetable stock
- 2/3 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 8-10 eggs, whisked
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup full fat cooking cream (optional for those not avoiding all dairy)
- 5-6 sages leaves
Cook leek in coconut oil until translucent. Add pumpkin and vegetable stock and cook for 12-15 minutes, without a lid so that the liquid can evaporate along the way. At the same time preheat oven to 365 F (180C). Remove pumpkin and leek to a medium casserole or other over proof dish, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk eggs, with cream if using it, and baking soda. Pour over the cooked ingredients and season with a little more salt. I like to add a few sage leaves but you can also use thyme or rosemary. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
13. How about a pork and spinach stuffed squash from Nom Nom Paleo
14. For dessert, you can try pumpkin ice-cream from Primal Palate
15. Or these paleo pumpkin swirl cheescake squares by Vanessa from Clean Eating With A Dirty Mind (as posted on Paleo Parents)
16. Then there is a pumpkin custard chocolate brownie pie by Julie from PaleOMG
17. Then back to Nom Nom Paleo for pumpkin, maple and coconut custards
18. If you want more savoury recipes, how about pumpkin and zucchini fritters?
Grate pumpkin and zucchini, mix with an egg, some coconut or tapioca flour (about 1 tbsp), salt, pepper and some herbs and pan fry small, flattened dollops for 4-5 minutes on each side.
19. Or maybe butternut squash and sausage stew with roasted tomatoes and onions…I don’t even have a recipe yet but it sounds delicious in my head.
20. And finally, spaghetti squash Bolognese!
How about that? Do you have a favourite recipe using pumpkin/winter squash or spaghetti squash? Share with us in comments.
On another note, check out my Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook for more delicious paleo recipes, introduction to paleo nutrition and philosophy and a handy inventory of foods to focus on and avoid. Available on my website.
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