In the words of our elders who were around during the depression: Waste not, want not.
Don't throw the guts and the pieces you carved out away just yet! All of the pumpkin "guts" (seeds and membranes) can get made into stock and roasted pumpkin seeds, and the eyes, noses, ears and grins that are cut out of the pumpkin are good edible stuff, too.
When I was a kid, I remember "Little Nonni"–my father's mother Mary– and all 4'9" of her stoic Sicilian self taking the pieces of pumpkin face that we kids were cutting out from the newspapered floor. In a few minutes there was golden breaded and fried chunks of pumpkin on a field of warm tomato sauce, blanketed by a snow of grated Romano cheese, and ready to eat.
I have recreated that simple recipe and have added three more–goin' round the world, using pumpkin as the centerpiece of these recipes.
Pumpkin StockRemove the membranes and seeds from the pumpkin or squash you are using. Put them in a heavy pot and cover with water by at least 2 inches. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook at a moderate boil for 15 minutes and reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour, adding a little more water if necessary to keep the squash covered. Strain, squeezing the flavor out of the pulp. Use for soups, stews and making risotto.
Pumpkin Fritters Fra DiavoloMy Grandmother Mary was a true Sicilian– and she loved to fry vegetables. As kids, when we cut our jack-o-lanterns, the noses, eyes, mouths and other dismembered sections were deftly encrusted in lightly seasoned breadcrumbs, kissed by the oil and allowed to steam in the delicate casing. Yes, pumpkin is one of my favorite veggies to fry alla Nonna! Serve these on a pool of zesty tomato sauce and hit them with a quick grating of Locatelli Romano while they are still hot. This recipe gets a *4 on the Ric-ter scale.
- one pan of flour seasoned to taste with salt and pepper
- one dish with two eggs scrambled with ¼ cup of cool water
- one pan of unseasoned bread crumbs
El LocroEl Locro is a South American stew that always features pumpkin, squash, and corn and sometimes also has potatoes, pork, and even cheese. This rendition is vegetarian, hearty and rich. If you want to add a couple of pigs feet or ham hock, I won't stop you!
olive oil as needed
2 cups pumpkin, peeled and seeded (you can really use any winter squash here)
2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, smashed
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 fresh hot chile of your choice, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can (16 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can 28 oz Posole ( Hominy) or fresh or frozen corn
1 can (16 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
8 cups water or “pumpkin Stock” see below
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup cheddar or jack cheese, grated
Using a box grater or the grating attachment on a food processor, shred the 2 cups of squash set aside. Dice the rest into large stew chunks, about 1” square.
In a Dutch Oven coat the bottom with a olive oil. Heat olive oil to medium. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, jalapeno and paprika. Continue cooking, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the spices mellow. Add the squash, white beans, posole, potatoes, tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, set on the cover askew, and simmer the stew for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the squash is very tender.
Add the cilantro and cream. Stir in the cheese a little at a time to melt. Serve Hot!
Pumpkin MulligatawnyThis most popular Indian lentil soup has been made so many ways, one never really knows how authentic their version is. The recipe I have been preparing for the last 25 years is based on the soup made at India Pavilion in Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The soup there is smooth with red lentils and has a nice lemony accent. Chunks of pumpkin add texture and brightness.
In a heavy pot add ghee or oil and heat gently. Add the aromatic paste and sauté until a beautiful aroma is released. Do not brown.