Usually when I think of pumpkins, the Butternut pumpkin comes immediately to mind. An hourglass-shaped pumpkin which makes for a decidedly tasty and wintery soup, paired with condiments like fried bacon, chopped parsley or even an indulgent little drizzle of pure cream. If not reserved for soup, it’s puree can be transformed into scones, muffins and spiced pumpkin pie (though the latter is not very prevalent here in Australia). It is also great cut into wedges (leave the skin on, it actually has a really nice flavour, once roasted), tossed in olive oil and spices, roasted until tender, and served as a side dish (Jamie Oliver has a good recipe for this). The Queensland Blue and Jarrahdale, two regional varieties of pumpkin you also see frequently in the shops here, remind me more of the pumpkin my sister and I once carved for Halloween. Carved pumpkins are meant to ward off evil spirits, but ours seemed to attract a few pests and after a couple of days, I was starting to get creeped out by the rot and mould that had set in, making the facial features sag.
When not being taken to with a knife for such artistic endeavours, all types of pumpkins are high in Vitamins A and B, and their seeds contain a lot of Zinc, which is good for the prostate and the immune system. And here’s an interesting little bit of trivia that I also learnt from Wikipedia : apparently, you can roughly guess the number of seeds contained in a pumpkin by multiplying the number of fruiting sections by 16!
This pumpkin salad, from a recent issue of Gourmet Traveller is, in my opinion, an absolute winner. I like it served warm, as befitting the current weather, and don’t stinge on the tahini sauce – generous lashings of it really make the salad.
Roast pumpkin and chickpea salad :
(recipe by Joseph Abboud from Rumi)
100g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water, then drained
1 cinnamon quill
1/2 onion, halved
1.2 kg pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2cm pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup Dukkah
Tahini sauce :
1 clove garlic, pounded to a paste with a pinch of salt
90ml lemon juice
15ml (3 teaspoons) orange juice
15ml olive oil
Combine chickpeas, cinnamon and onion in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil, simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and discard cinnamon and onion.
Preheat oven to 220’C. Place pumpkin in a roasting pan, season with sea salt, drizzle with oil, scatter with allspice and toss to combine. Roast, turning occasionally, for 25-30 minutes until golden and tender.
For the tahini sauce, place tahini in a bowl and slowly stir in 90ml cold water, then whisk in remaining ingredients and season with sea salt. Makes about 250ml. Sauce will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Gently combine pumpkin, chickpeas, parsley and Dukkah in a bowl and season to taste. Spread 1/4 cup tahini sauce over a plate, top with salad, drizzel with an extra 2 tablespoons tahini sauce and serve.
This week’s WHB is hosted by Susan of Food Blogga. Nevermind the healthy and delicious sounding wild rocket pasta recipe she features for WHB, you should check out the insane-sized lobsters she had recently. The claw alone might have fed me for a week! (if only…)