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Pumpkins and turnips and squash... Oh my!
Fruits can be used for something other than pumpkin pie
By Johanne McInnis
I was at supper with some friends the other night when one of the girls pulled out pictures of her little girl sitting in a pumpkin patch. Bails of hay, leaves and plenty of large beautiful bright orange pumpkins. I told them about an article I was thinking of writing with regards to pumpkins, squash and turnips and it started a really good conversation. We took turns telling stories from our childhoods and one thing was pretty much in common for all of us.
Pumpkins were for two things: Carving and making pies. None of us liked turnip (well, I actually love turnip, let's just say it doesn't like me) and squash was good mashed with butter and a little brown sugar. It made me realize how little I knew about pumpkins and squash so I decided to do a little research.
A pumpkin is a fruit whereas a squash is a vegetable.
Pumpkins are readily available in October; squash has two varieties: summer (August-October) and winter (October- December). Pumpkins are high in Vitamin A due to the level of beta-carotenes and squash has plenty of Vitamin C. Both contain no fat, no cholesterol or salt. Pumpkin seeds are considered a superfood because they are rich in the amino acids alanin, glycine and glutamic acid, which are excellent for vegetarians.
The next thing I did was go through my recipe books to see what exactly I had. In all honesty, I didn't seem to have much so I polled a few people to see what they had. Again, I came up empty handed. As stated earlier, it seemed everyone had a good pumpkin pie recipe.
Squash on the other hand seemed non-existent other than baked or boiled. Browsing the Internet came to mind so I went online and surfed away. I found two really interesting recipes within minutes of starting my search.
I think the first one would be a great starter for a nice weekend fall supper with friends and family.
It's called Oven-roasted Pumpkin Soup and it's courtesy of Chatelaine Magazine.
OVEN-ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP
- 1 small pumpkin (about 2 lbs/ 1 kg), cut into quarters and seeded
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- _ tsp each of nutmeg, salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut up into 1 inch pieces
- _ tsp. Ginger
- 1 tsp. Curry powder
- 3 _ cup of chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- _ cup whipping cream
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- _ tsp dried thyme
1. Preheat oven to 375F (191 C). Line a baking sheet with foil. Score pumpkin flesh with a knife, making deep criss-cross slashes. Place flesh-side up on baking sheet. Brush with about 1 tsp. oil. Toss onions in a bowl with garlic and 1 tsp. oil. Add to baking sheet, placing onion cut-side down. Evenly sprinkle pumpkin and onion with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, until pumpkin is very tender, from 45 to 60 minutes. If onion or garlic begins to burn before pumpkin is cooked, fold foil overtop of them. Remove pan from oven and cool until they can be handled.
2. Heat remaining teaspoon oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add apple and ginger. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir constantly to develop curry flavour, from 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in broth and water. Scoop out cooked pumpkin from skin and add to soup along with onion. Squeeze out roasted garlic from it papery skins directly into soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes to develop flavour.
3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer set on high, whip cream with maple syrup in a small deep bowl until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Fold in thyme. If not serving immediately, place in a covered container and refrigerate up to 1 day.
4. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, purée soup in batches. For a smoother consistency, press through a strainer. Serve in soup bowls with a dollop of maple-thyme cream in centre. Soup will keep well in the refrigerator for at least 3 days and in the freezer for about 2 months.
- Makes 6-8 servings The squash recipe is a twist to the way it's usually made. Great served as a side dish.
SWEET POTATO AND SQUASH BAKE
- 1/2 pound sweet potato peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 large acorn squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp unpacked brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 375 F (191 C). Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.
2. Peel sweet potatoes and squash, cut into 1-inch cubes and place in prepared pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; toss to coat mixture well.
3. Bake, covered with aluminium foil, for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.
- Makes 6 servings So live a little, step out of the box and make a big pot of pumpkin soup! I know I will. Until next time, happy creating cooking!
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