Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Plethora of Pumpkin, Part 1

Pumpkin: It's not just for pies and Jack-o-Lanterns!


I like looking at the recipe slide shows and featured recipes on sites like and  Recently, obviously, they've been featuring a lot of fall foods and flavors.  Like squash.  I am a fan of squash in all of its forms, so I am not complaining, but I was surprised at how few recipes there are for pumpkin that aren't dessert recipes.  Pumpkin is just a kind of squash.  It is not sweet on its own and, in my mind, is not any more suited for pie than any other squash.

Okay, I take that back.  I guess it's a little less stringy than some other squashes, so maybe it's a consistency thing.  I guess a spaghetti squash pie might be kind of disgusting.  Or excellent.  If it were a savory pie...

That's a try for another day!

Anyway, my point is, pumpkin is good for anything that you might use another kind of squash in.  Pumpkins themselves also have kinds - just ask anyone who has ever made a pumpkin pie from scratch.  You don't want to cook with the same kind of pumpkin that you make a jack-o-lantern with.

I believe this is either a Blue Lakota pumpkin, or a Jarrahdale pumpkin.  I'm not in any way positive about either, but it matches both of the descriptions I found online.  The shape leads me to think it's a Jarrahdale, because the Blue Lakota are supposed to be pear shaped, however the Jarradales are grown in Australia, and the Blue Lakota's are supposed to be grown in the Midwest...

Either way, this pumpkin is excellent.  The thick flesh means that you get more to work with, and it's smoother than the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins.  It also has an exceptionally thick skin, which means they should keep well in storage.  This was my only one, so I'm going to see if I can find another one (and maybe find out for reals what it was).

This is a Jack-o-Lantern.  These kinds of pumpkins have names too, but I don't know what I had.  Big orange.  I made a Cylon from BSG because I'm a big nerd:

Anyway, so I cut up the peeled and chopped up the pumpkin (the blue one, not the Cylon) into 1 inch cubes, and coated the cubes with salt, white pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.  I also tossed in a full head of garlic, separated into its individual cloves, peeled, and slightly crushed.  I then baked it for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin was nice and soft.  In theory, you could easily just eat the pumpkin like this as a side dish.  If I was doing that, I probably would have added a bit more salt at the time of roasting.

But instead, I decided I wanted to make a pasta sauce.  I took six cups of the pumpkin and threw it in the food processor, and turned it into a puree. It was really good at this point, too. Kind of like smooth mashed potato pumpkin.  I added 1/2 of a container of mascarpone cheese, and blended that all together.

For the record, this was way too much for two people.  If I made this pasta again, I would probably use half as much or even less.  However, I did save the pumpkin/mascarpone mixture that I didn't use, and do have a plan for it if I get to it before it goes bad.

Meanwhile I made up some pasta, and chopped up some chanterelle and shitake mushrooms and sauteed them in butter.  I also chopped up a bunch of kale and steamed it.  Once everything was done, I added the pasta and sauce to a big frying pan, and stirred until the pasta was well coated.  It was a little thick, so I ended up adding a few splashes of half and half as well.  I stirred in the kale and mushrooms, and when it was all mixed together I topped the whole thing with a few nice sized flakes of smoked trout from Rushing Rivers.

Overall, 100% local, except the spices.

I absolutely loved this, and thought it was even better heated up the next day which is rare for pasta.  Jeff, however, did not care for it at all.  Because of this, I had more leftover than I could eat on my own before it went bad, so I picked out all of the mushrooms (I'm not letting chanterelles go to waste!) and added them to my pumpkin soup.

What's that?  Pumpkin soup you say?  Better wait for "A Plethora of Pumpkin, Part 2!"

According to my friend/co-worker who is sitting behind me and reading over my shoulder, this should have been actual pumpkin pasta, not a pumpkin pasta sauce.  Direct quote: "uh, I want to be eating that, so you should probably get on it right now."  Check.  Don't make her angry!

That will have to be a "Plethora of Pumpkin Part X."

1 comment:

  1. Alex brought home a small pumpkin from a field trip, and we never got around to carving it since we had already bought carving pumpkins, so I made my first homemade pumpkin pie that did not include canned pumpkin. We thought the taste was a little different than we were used to, but not bad. We'll probably try it again.