Pumpkins Season is just around the corner…
Date: 14-08-2019 published by Nick Baines
The pumpkin gets plenty of attention for its Halloween exploits, but this familiar orange orb is actually one of the finest squashes to grace the kitchen.
The pumpkin has been grown on our shores for centuries and it’s only until recently that we have started growing them mainly for decoration purposes. But as we move further and further into a new age of veganism and plant-based diets, even the most humdrum of vegetables are being given a new lease of life.
The pumpkin is a versatile gourd capable of crossing the lines between sweet and savoury. Sweet pies from the American south are revered and pumpkin is a timeless classic that sings of the season. For savvy chefs quick to market street foods and cuisines from across the globe, autumn is a powerful time to start dabbling with sweet pies, not least due to the abundance of produce on offer.
Pureeing pumpkin arms the kitchen with a valuable commodity. From filling sweet desserts, to loading Italian pasta, it can be taken in either direction with a slip of salt or syrup. You may be familiar with its affiliation with ricotta but surprised to see how gloriously it works with dark chocolate. The former works to make a robust ravioli filling, though switching ricotta for goats cheese can be a playful twist on a classic, not to mention the inclusion of cracked black pepper.
Of course, sectioning and roasting pumpkin lays the foundation to a number of other dishes too. Classically, you’ll blitz with stock to create a comforting soup – anointed with a dollop of crème fraîche. However, lightly mashed, it has a remarkable partnership with melted cheddar. Load into tortilla wraps with some black beans and introduce to a hot plate and you have a protein rich veggie quesadilla on your hands. If you’re looking for a seasonal toastie on your menu, leave out the beans and load into good sourdough with mature cheddar that packs a punch.
For food service operations catering to a lighter eating clientele, squashes like pumpkin and butternut can be a cornerstone of your menu. Cubed and roasted they beef up a great number of salads, rice and Buddha bowls, as well as making great veggie and vegan toppings for wood fired pizzas. Take them in different directions by tossing in zaatar before roasting, or alternatively glaze in sweet floral honey. Either way, playful chefs have countless options when tackling the pumpkin.
As the evenings get shorter, temperatures descend and sunsets turn mesmerisingly golden, this rust coloured season is a profitable time for food service. If you’re looking to offer your customers something seasonal, different and delicious, then making friends with the pumpkin could serve you very well indeed.
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