It’s usually reserved for roasted vegetables or soup, but food guru Matt Preston has plenty of other ideas for how to cook the versatile winter squash.
Botanically speaking, vegetables are almost any edible part of a plant.
I can imagine… Photographed in his natural state, Mr. Julio would be captured “caught in the field”, astonishingly naked. The shot is all about smooth skin and how the wavy contours on the sides of him catch the sun.
This member of the winter squash family claims the July title because while there are so many winter fruits and vegetables coming into season now, none attract as many hungry eyes—that is, online searches. delicious.com.au – like pumpkin.
Most of the time, its sweet meat is displayed in a creamy pumpkin soup – is the single most sought after recipe in Australia at this time of year.
For me, however, pumpkin (or any of the winter squashes) is so much more than that sweet dish of golden heat.
While “it’s got pumpkin, it should make soup” might be the knee-jerk reaction to this seasonal favorite, it’s good for so much more.
A BLOW-IN BREAKFAST
There are no rules that say pumpkin should be part of a main meal, so why not also be for breakfast?
Try adding pumpkin puree to your pancake mix to bulk them up, adding body and sweetness to make them even more perfect with maple syrup.
Or serve roasted squash wedges with hummus and poached eggs sprinkled on dukkah for a weekend brunch.
A MASTERPIECE WITHOUT MEAT
The high level of natural sugars in pumpkin means that when you roast wedges or steaks, you have a good chance of getting deliciously chewy caramelized edges.
To me, these edges elevate squash to hero status as a meatless meal for even the most ardent carnivore.
Those wedges can be served loaded with anything from a satay sauce or chili caramel to a lemon juice tahini dressing paired with broth-cooked barley garnished with pomegranate gems, roasted red onion, crumbled feta, and torn dates.
STUFFED LIKE A ROAST
Sure, squash is usually found in the oven as a backup singer for a big-name roast like chicken or a shoulder of pig but, structurally, it offers some interesting suggestions for serving alternatives.
I’m totally in love with chef Miguel Maestre’s idea of coring a butternut squash and filling the cavity with rice, walnuts, and Persian feta before roasting it whole.
When it comes out of the oven, he slices it like a porchetta pork roast. I think he even calls it “pumpketta”, with a touch of linguistic elegance.
Of course, you can simply split the nutmeg lengthwise, scraping out the strings and seeds, and roast it stuffed with fried minced lamb with lots of garlic, onion, and spices like cumin and coriander, or a stickier fry of pork mince mixed with sweet soy and cooked with plenty of ginger and garlic.
When golden and toasted, serve with cilantro pesto or with lots of cilantro and holy basil.
A SWEET SUBSTITUTE
Try Chef Matt Moran’s Pumpkin Honey Spices Bread. Or slice the squash into thin slices to add to your lasagna, gratin or moussaka in a play on the traditional dish like in chef Warren Mendes’ beef and squash moussaka.
The recipe for that and the pumpkin bread are among the 40 most popular dishes featured in our pumpkin gallery, available for free online at delicious.com.au.
A FIRST LEVEL TOAST
If you had any leftover pieces of roasted squash, cut them into wedges to use on Chef (and new judge on The Great Australian Bake Off) Darren Purchese’s Gorgonzola, Pumpkin, Maple-Cured Bacon and Maple Syrup Toast.
The salty creaminess of this blue cheese is perfect with sweet squash and bacon.
SPICED FOR A SAUCE OR SIP
Whether it’s using pumpkin chunks in a Thai red curry sauce or America’s obsession with pumpkin spice lattes, we know pumpkins love spice.
Try filling a blind-baked pastry box with pumpkin-enriched custard to bake a silky pumpkin pie. And don’t be shy with your cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves in this one.
PAIRING WITH PASTA
Never rule out leftover squash—they’ll be perfect for tomorrow night’s pasta.
Fill them into cannelloni tubes, mix them with flour to roll them into pumpkin pici (a kind of fat spaghetti), or add them to fettuccine sautéed with butter, pine nuts, crisp sage leaves, and raisins.
You can even mix the squash with broth or cream and some grated cheese to make a great sauce for penne.
Again, nutmeg and sage are your friends here, along with a couple handfuls of spinach.
For more food, travel and lifestyle news, go to delicious.com.au