An Ode to the Pumpkin

Pumpkins just recently emerged on the culinary scene as they are great for taking on other flavours

It’s hard to believe that winter is just around the corner. Our bodies are already craving the comfort food to keep us warm and hearty! One of my favourite ingredients this time of year is pumpkin — you can find them everywhere for a good price in all the local grocery stores. Pumpkins just recently emerged on the culinary scene as they are great for taking on other flavours. They are also great to keep over the winter months as they will keep stored in a cool area. Pumpkins are also beautiful to display, great to plant with kids and, of course, famous for being the Halloween mascot. Now… how to cook with it?

First of all, put down the can of pumpkin pie filling. One of the easiest and most flavourful things you can do is make your own pumpkin puree. Cut the pumpkin in quarters, leave the skin on, remove the seeds, place on a baking sheet in a 350 C oven for about 30 minutes or until it is soft enough to have a fork go through the pulp. Let it cool down, scoop and place pulp into a food processor where you will puree to desired consistency. I love cinnamon and all-spice in my puree, but feel free to add whatever flavours you love. Now, bake your pie or cheesecake and wait for those raving reviews as your guests devour their treat!

Pumpkin is fabulous as a sweet or savoury ingredient. The nutritional value within them is enough for me to make sure I get my fill! I enjoy this following recipe with roast chicken on a cool fall night with a spinach salad on the side. It’s also a nice dish to consider for Christmas as the crust is a bit like stuffing.

 

Crusted Pumpkin Wedges with sour cream*

(serves 4)

 

• 1½ lbs pumpkin with skin on

• ½ cup grated Parmesan

• 3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs

• 6 tbsp finely chopped parsley

• 2½ tbsp finely chopped thyme

• grated zest of 2 large lemons

(preferably organic)

• 2 garlic cloves, crushed

• salt and white pepper

• ¼ cup olive oil

• ½ cup sour cream

• 1 tbsp chopped dill

• Preheat oven to 375 C.

• Cut the pumpkin into three-eighths-of-an-inch-thick slices and lie them flat (cut side down) on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

• Mix together in a small bowl the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, half the lemon zest, the garlic, a tiny amount of salt (because Parmesan is salty) and white pepper.

• Brush the pumpkin generously with olive oil and sprinkle the crust mix, making sure the slices are covered with a thick coating. Gently pat the mix down a little.

• Place the pan in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. If the topping starts to darken too much, cover the pumpkin with foil.

• Mix the sour cream with the dill and some salt and pepper. Serve the wedges warm, sprinkled with remaining lemon zest, with sour cream on the side.

Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savour fabulous seasonal food, sip from a selection of beverages including B.C. wines and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape. *Recipe copyright from Plenty Cookbook

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