November brings a new addition to our Pumpkin series. Today we’ll focus on the savory side of cooking with pumpkins. Pumpkins have a moderately sweet flavor and a pleasant texture that lends well to many dishes. Pumpkin can be substituted for most recipes that call for any winter squashes (like butternut or acorn) or sweet potatoes or yams.
This Thanksgiving staple goes well in many Italian dishes and is beautiful simply roasted as a side dish. Two of my favorite combinations for roasted pumpkin are with olive oil and rosemary or drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar. As always, I reach for my Flavor Bible when looking for new blends and flavor profiles.
Traditional – sage, thyme, bay leaf, brown butter
Latin – chili peppers, cumin, garlic, cilantro
Asian – coconut, curry, ginger, lemongrass
There are many amazing recipes for pumpkin soups that use the combos above and many others. Some use puréed pumpkins or blend the entire soup and some are chunky with cubed pumpkin. Both are wonderful and work well depending on what you are looking for. I am featuring a recipe from Saveur that cooks the soup inside the roasting pumpkin. Make sure to use a heavy pumpkin with thick walls that will remain intact during baking.
1 7-lb. Cinderella pumpkin, with a 2" stem 7 Tbsp. butter Salt 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs, toasted 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp. ground sage Freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese 4 cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock 2 bay leaves 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut a lid about 4” in diameter out of the top of the pumpkin and set the lid aside. Remove the seeds and strings. Rub the inside of the pumpkin and lid with 1Tbsp softened butter, season with salt, and place on a baking pan.
Melt the remaining 6Tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft – about ten minutes. Stir in bread crumbs and cook for 2 minutes, then add nutmeg and sage and season generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, then spoon mixture into pumpkin. Pour enough stock to come within ½” of the rim. Lay bay leaves on top then fit the lid onto the pumpkin.
Bake until pumpkin begins to soften and brown on the outside and the stock bubbles on the inside, about 1½ hours. Carefully remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter. With a long-handled spoon, scrape from the bottom and sides of pumpkin and, just before serving, stir in heavy cream if using.