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PUMPKIN OR SQUASH…?

As everything in New York keeps reminding me, it is, in fact, fall.  Fall is a magical time when the leaves turn brilliant colours before their descent to the ground, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg waft through the streets, everyone starts to rug up in cozy sweaters and the farmers markets are filled with various different types of pumpkins (commonly referred to as winter squash) in anticipation for Halloween and Thanksgiving. With this in mind, here are a few things I like to cook with pumpkin. 

ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP

Everyone is going crazy for honeynut pumpkin at the moment (thank you Dan Barber) and to be honest I think it is worthy of the hype. It is nutty and dense and sweet and delicious. If you can’t get your hands on them, butternut pumpkin works too. Note - roasting pumpkin before making soup makes it taste a million times better, don’t skip this part. 

INGREDIENTS

2-3 honeynut pumpkins, or 1 medium butternut pumpkin, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed and lightly scored in a criss-cross

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

A drizzle of honey/maple syrup

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp thyme leaves

4 cups vegetable stock, or more depending on thickness 

10 grinds black pepper


METHOD

Preheat oven to 220ºC and prepare an oven tray with baking paper. Place pumpkin, cut side up, on the oven tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and some honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast  for 25-30 minutes, until softened and delicious. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan with a lid and gently cook onion on medium low heat for 8 minutes until softened. Add garlic and thyme and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Use a spoon to scrape the flesh from the pumpkin and discard the skins. Add cooked pumpkin and vegetable stock to the saucepan and stir to evenly combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste. Use a hand wand or blender to puree it until it is smooth and creamy. If it is a little too thick, add a little more stock, and put it back on the stove to heat through. You can also add a little cream, coconut cream or greek yoghurt to round out the flavour. 

Serve as is, or with some toasted pepitas, and/or fresh bread/toast. 

PUMPKIN & CARAMELISED ONION BRUSCHETTA

This is one of my go-to dishes when I’m entertaining (and is also delicious on toast if you don’t feel like being sociable). My lovely friend Audrey introduced me to it a couple of years ago - the combination of flavours work so well together. 

I always like to have something pre-prepared to feed guests upon arrival so they aren’t famished and it takes the pressure off having your dinner right on time. The cooked pumpkin and caramelised onions will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days and you can toast the bread the night beforehand, so long as you keep it in an airtight container. 

Make sure you use a high quality sourdough baguette otherwise it will become dry and fall apart when you toast it. 

ROASTED PUMPKIN

1 medium butternut pumpkin, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed and lightly scored in a criss-cross

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

A drizzle of honey/maple

CARAMELISED ONIONS

2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup water

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of salt

TO SERVE

1 loaf rustic sourdough baguette

1/2 cup fresh ricotta

A drizzle of balsamic crema


METHOD

Preheat the oven to 220ºC and prepare an oven tray with baking paper. Place pumpkin, cut side up, on the oven tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and some honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast  for 25-30 minutes, until softened and delicious. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.

While this is cooking, you can start on the onions. Place all ingredients in a pot with a lid, cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and cook, stirring now and then, until all the water has evaporated and onions are just starting to stick to the bottom (about 15 minutes). Allow to cool. 

To toast bread, cut slices from a baguette or rustic loaf (I like to cut the bread on an angle as it looks a little more elegant and gives you a greater surface area for toppings) brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt, and bake at 160°C / 325°F until crisp (about 20 minutes). Alternately, you can use a toaster for this step but you will have to do a few rounds. 

To assemble bruschetta, spread 1/2 tbsp fresh ricotta on the base of your bread, then top with 1 tbsp of the pumpkin mixture and a good pinch of caramelised onions. Drizzle with balsamic, place prepared bruschetta on a board or platter and serve. Bon appétit! 


Roasted Pumpkin with Tahini Yoghurt, Coriander and Sumac

INGREDIENTS

1 large round pumpkin (Japanese pumpkin or Kent works well here) cut into wedges, seeds removed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1/4 cup coriander leaves, to serve

2 tsp sumac, to serve

TAHINI YOGHURT

1/2 cup greek yoghurt

1/4 cup tahini

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 220ºC and prepare a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place each half cut side down and cut it into wedges along each ridge. Make sure you are very careful not to cut yourself, and always cut with a flat surface against the board so it does not slip. Arrange the wedges on your baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, honey/maple, salt and pepper and roast until golden and soft and delicious.

To make the tahini yoghurt, place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.

To serve, spread tahini yoghurt on a plate and top with slices of cooked pumpkin. Garnish with coriander and a sprinkle of sumac.