The origin of the pumpkin is not definitively known, but they are
believed to have originated in North America. As such, we
probably have our Native American ancestors to thank for them,
as they taught the English settlers how to cultivate and harvest
them. Even still, our ancestors couldn't have imagined all the new uses we'd find for this melon. Sure, there's pumpkin pie and bread, but there's a host of savory dishes that feature pumpkin today as well. Find some of them below and give your body the boost of Vitamins A and C and beta-carotene for which these fruits are best known.
Pumpkin Recipes in this Section:
Bread and Cheese-Stuffed Pumpkin
1 medium pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Freshly ground pepper
¼ pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into ½-inch chunks
¼ pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Cheddar, or a combination, cut into ½-inch chunks
2–4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 strips cooked bacon, chopped
¼ cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
⅓ cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin.
Using a very sturdy knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin so there is enough room to make it easy to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.
Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well-filled. In a separate bowl, stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin.
Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, remove the cap during the last 20 minutes so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown. Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a platter and serve immediately.
Pumpkin Soup with Bacon
1/2 pound of bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 # of squash or pumpkin flesh, seeded, peeled and cubed
5 C of water
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T fresh thyme leaves
2 thick slices good bread, torn into small, rough pieces.
Fry up the bacon in a soup pot. When it's done, remove the bacon and drain. Pour off one tablespoon of the fat into a medium-sized frying pan, leaving the rest in the pot (unless it seems like too much, in which case you can spoon off some more and save it for another use.) You should have enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Fry up the onions in the bacon fat until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook gently for about 2 minutes or until it is fragrant. Add a few pinches of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Add the squash and water, bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the squash is very soft, about 20-30 minutes. Puree the soup until very smooth. I recommend using a stick blender. Otherwise do it in batches in the blender, being careful not to splatter the hot soup.
While the soup is simmering, sauté the bread in the bacon fat, crumbling in the reserved bacon until the bread begins to color and crisp. If the mixture seems too dry, add a splash of olive oil. Season with salt, if needed, and pepper.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle on about 2 tablespoons of the bread/bacon mixture in each bowl. Garnish with the thyme leaves.
Chicken and Pumpkin Stir Fry
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 onions, sliced
2 small red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 chicken breast fillets, sliced
1.5 lbs pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup basil leaves
Heat the oil in a preheated frying pan or wok over medium to high heat. Add the onion, chilli and pepper and cook for 1 minute.
Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Add the pumpkin and fish sauce, cover and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is just soft. Stir through the basil and serve with steamed jasmine rice.