by Margaret Mendel
Recipes at the end of this article & a coupon for Valentino’s Italian Restaurant in Reedley!
I don’t know of any fruit or vegetable that announces a changing season as does the pumpkin. When pumpkins show up in the market I know that Halloween is only weeks away and that soon there’ll be a range of festivities: family gatherings, friends coming together for food and drink, a time for gift giving, and then the year ends with champagne and an explosion of fireworks.
The pumpkin is the star vegetable that steps out onto the produce stage in October and announces, “Let the festivities begin!!”
These plump orange beauties have earned stardom status. They can be served as a soup in a first course, pureed and dressed in the scantiest of herbs or with only a touch of spice and they become an elegant entrée to any holiday meal. If you rough-cut a pumpkin into bite sized pieces and cook it with earthy vegetables and a stewing foul the pumpkin holds its own and is never upstaged.
The Chinese use pumpkins as stewing pots for rice and meats. In Mexico, cooks make a sweet treat by slowly simmering chunks of pumpkins with sugar and spices, sometimes slipping in a bit of jalapeno for an added element of favor.
Roasted and reduced to its softest textures, with a gentle sieving to turn the flesh into a puree, this lovely hearty vegetable can be transformed into the most delectable ‘puddeny pies’.
Don’t let the hard exterior of the pumpkin fool you. It’s capable of being delicate enough for a king’s palate or hearty and robustly sumptuous to fill the belly of a hard working farmer. It is the cook who determines how to handle this versatile vegetable.
And the classic Jack-o’-lantern face carved into this vegetable, usually with a smiley but sinister glare delights and frightens the viewer in this early holiday season. But it is the secrets that the pumpkin’s flesh holds, the countless ways it has been prepared for centuries, that is the trick and treat when served up in these early autumn days.
For more information about pumpkins click onto the article I wrote for Kings River Life Magazine last year.
3 cups of raw pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 or 2 slices of bacon (turkey or pork) cut widthwise in 1-inch strips
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Place the pumpkin cubes into a baking dish or cookie sheet pan. Drizzle pumpkin with olive oil, mixing well to make sure all the flesh is coated. Sprinkle with the chili power stirring either with your hands or a spatula to make sure the seasoning is thoroughly incorporated. Place in the oven at 375 degree and cook for about 45 minutes until the pumpkin is slightly browned and fork tender.
While the pumpkin is cooking sauté the onion slices and bacon slices in a fry pan until the onions become a golden brown. Add the garlic, cook for another 5 minutes and then set aside.
Combined the cooked pumpkin with the onion/bacon/garlic and gently stir until everything is mix well. Serve while warm or store in refrigerator for a day or two.
RICE CEREAL TREAT WITH PUMPKIN PIE SPICE
Pumpkin Pie spice mix:
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Mix spices together in a separate container.
Pour seasoning into 6-cups of cereal, insuring that spices are well incorporated into the cereal. Set aside.
In a LARGE saucepan melt 3 Tablespoons butter (or Margarine). Add 1 package of regular marshmallows, stirring until completely melted. Remove from stove.
Quickly add seasoned cereal to melted marshmallows, stirring well until everything is incorporated.
Pour mixture into 13x9x2-inch pan that has been heavily greased with butter or a cooking spray. Press mixture down into the pan evenly and firmly using either a greased spatula or a sheet of wax paper. Cool.
Cut into 2-inch squares. Best served the same day, but these treats can be store in airtight containers and even frozen in the airtight container for up to four weeks.
Why not head over to Reedley’s Valentino’s Italian Restaurant for a great meal sometime this fall when you don’t feel like cooking–their specials are listed on their Facebook page. Check out this special coupon for KRL’s readers!