Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Tale of Two Pumpkins...Or Rather One Pumpkin, Two Lunches.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was pumpkin season. Every Fall I become a pumpkin hoarder. I see those beautiful little orange babies and I don't have to have just one, I have to have a whole pyramid of them. The bigger the better. If I could use them as furniture, I would.
I always intend to do something with them, but somehow, short of carving one up as a Halloween Jack O' Lantern, I never do. Maybe I suffered a pumpkin deficiency back in the years I lived in LA when there were tons of pumpkins in the markets all through October and then Bang!, November 1st, they all seemed to disappear.
Back in the day, I loved to cook with pumpkin. Pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin sage sauce for pasta, pumpkin dumplings, pumpkin and root vegetable stews. It was like that shrimp guy in Forrest Gump. I couldn't get enough of them. So, I used to store them up in my garage and sort of work my way through them dish by dish. Along the way I learned a thing or two about pumpkins.
First of all, there are Jack O' Lantern pumpkins and cooking pumpkins. Second of all, I happen to be lucky enough to live in an area where all the pumpkins don't go missing the day after Trick or Treat. They're still out there, stacks of them and I'm taking advantage.
The best pumpkin to cook with, is the Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Contrary to popular thought, ok, contrary to what I thought, it doesn't have to be as big as my head to be good. Below is the cute little Sugar Pie I bought home the other day.

A pumpkin of this size, which I think was about 1 pound, turned out to make two, count 'em , two full very generously sized vegetable side dishes.
The first thing to do is to clean your pumpkin. Cut it, clean out the seeds (which can be cleaned, dried and roasted with tasty spices for later crunching), peel and chop it.

For this dish all you're going to need is going to be half of your 1 pound pumpkin, about 7 oz. which will be cubed into one inch pieces. This is going to be turned into
Green Beans and Pumpkin Curry, my adaptation of a recipe from one of my favorite books Atul Kochhars' Indian Essence.
Once you have your peeled and cubed pumpkin
1.) clean and cut 1/4 pound of green beans into 1 inch pieces.

2.)Pour 1 cup of water into a deep skillet or Karhai and bring it to a boil.
3.) Add the pumpkin, the beans and 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.
4.) When the water is boiling turn the heat to low and simmer it all for about 5 minutes, or until your beans are soft.
5.) 1/2 tsp of salt
6.) 1/2 tsp of turmeric
7.) 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder if you can't find this, mix 1/4 tsp of cayenne powder with 1/4 tsp of paprika
8.) 1/2 tsp ground cumin
9.) 1/2 tsp ground coriander
10.) 1 1/2 Tbs of Jaggery (Indian palm sugar) can be replaced with light brown sugar.

Mix all those spices in and then continue to cook it on a low heat until all the vegetables are tender. Before you serve, sprinkle it with 2 tsp of chopped fresh cilantro.

I think I've now overcome my pumpkin hoarding, seeing as I can easily obtain them here in Sonoma county. But for those of you who may suffer from disappearing pumpkin syndrome, this recipe will work just fine with any sort of winter squash. And the best, best, best of all that one pumpkin supplies enough of beta carotene goodness for two separate meals!! Coming up soon, Pumpkin....Part 2, Cook Hard Eat Soft!!
Just A Note
Listen to my podcast on Pumpkins at A Million Cooks


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