Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Perfection
I stole this recipe from the fall edition of Cooking Fresh magazine, but since I did not have all the ingredients (what exactly is turmeric?) and because I added pumpkin, subtracted the cauliflower, and tweaked the portions to meet the needs of a family of six, this recipe is now my own.
It all began when my husband discovered not only can you EAT pumpkins, but they are extremely good for you. Subsequently, he has been subtly encouraging me to cook with pumpkin by doing things like touting the health benefits of pumpkin, running pumpkin through the juicer (which I can’t recommend), and leaving small pumpkins on the table in the hall, where they taunt me daily.
But pumpkin? How does one go about cooking pumpkin? It seems so exotic!
I knew from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books that pumpkins could be cooked, but since Mma Ramotswe doesn’t give an exact recipe in the stories, I wrote on my chore list “google pumpkin recipes,” which I promptly forgot to do.
So, you can imagine my joy as I flipped through the Cooking Fresh magazine at the store and saw an entire spread on gourds, and my mind immediately turned to the forlorn little pumpkins waiting for me at home.
It turns out, pumpkins are not simply vessels upon which you carve scary faces. You CAN eat them! And edible pumpkin isn’t just something you scrape from a can into your bread mix. There are lovely, gorgeous gourds you can take home and (with some wrangling) slap on your plate.
The pumpkins my husband brought home were small, a deep orange color, and very round. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific as to what particular TYPE they were, but just make sure when you buy one, you get one that is for cooking.
I don’t usually eat pumpkin without adding multiple cups of sugar and/or three packages of cream cheese, so this endeavor was rather exciting for me.
This healthiced recipe has a spicy yet sweet flavor that has become a new fall family favorite.
Though Cooking Fresh calls this ‘South Indian-Style Vegetable Curry,’ my version is called ‘Pumpkin Perfection!‘ (The exclamation mark is ABSOLUTELY necessary, as alliterated P’s must always be emphasized).
The Raw Materials
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated (1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 small can tomato paste (6 oz)
1 large can organic diced tomatoes (with juice, 28 oz or 6-8 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
4 carrots (peeled and sliced into bite-sized hunks)
2-3 small white potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 small pumpkins (peeled, seeded and cubed) *Peel & cube the same way you do a butternut squash–cut in halves, scoop out seeds, slice in wedges and trim the rind with a sharp knife*
1 can chickpeas
4 cups of fresh baby spinach
1 whole lime from which you will need: 1 tsp grated lime zest & 2 Tbsp juice
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
In your Dutch oven, water sauté the onion on medium-high heat until brown (5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger, stir for one minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin and cayenne, stir for half a minute then add tomato paste, stirring for one minute more.
Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon and bring to a boil. Don’t worry if the liquid appears brown, it will turn a lovely orange after you add the veggies!
Reduce heat and add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots and potatoes. Add more liquid if necessary (tomato juice, water or broth), until the veggies are just covered. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Stir in chickpeas, lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and spinach. Turn off heat, and let cook until spinach is wilted (about 3 minutes).
Ladle into your Polish Pottery soup bowls and get ready for an onslaught of Vitamin A, potassium, and enough compliments to know all the trouble preparing those little pumpkins for the pot was worth it!