What is a wax pumpkin and what do you do with it? It’s not some cute knickknack you buy as a seasonal decoration, but a very large squash. Even after some extensive searching I’m not sure of its proper name, but all I know is I got a big chunk of one in my farm share this past week (if anyone can help clarify what the “real” name of this squash is, please speak up).
Armed with this pumpkin, lots of beets, and 2 bunches of kale I decided to make a vegetarian fall feast for my parents, who paid us a weekend visit. On the menu was pumpkin soup garnished with pomegranate seeds, coconut grilled kale, and roast beets. Simple, delicious, colorful fall fare.
Despite having to hack up the pumpkin into a manageable peeling size with our largest chef’s knife, I found the texture to be light, sweet and melon-like. When cooked into a soup I found that the squashiness was not over powering and it made a great flavor combination with the garnish of pomegranate seeds and creme fraiche.
Wax Pumpkin Soup with Pomegranate Seeds and Creme Fraiche
5 cups wax pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
5 cups vegetable stock
4 leaves dried sage, crumbled (about a teaspoon)
Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Creme Fraiche
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Over medium heat in a large stock pot drizzle the olive oil and add the onions and garlic, cooking until the onions are translucent. Add the pumpkin, celery, sage, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock, stir, and raise the heat and cover until the soup begins to simmer. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from heat and blend soup until smooth, using caution if using a traditional, not immersion, blender.
Serve while hot and add a generous spoonful of creme fraiche. Garnish with pomegranate seeds. For an extra kick add some Thai chili sauce.
I decided the sweet, rich soup would take center stage in my meal. To complement it (and add another deep color) I roasted some beets. Roasting beets could not be easier. Here’s how you do it:
Roasted Beets (or any root vegetable)
2-3 large beets (or 3-4 small or medium beets), peeled and chopped into bit sized pieces
1 TBS chopped fresh Rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place beets in a heavy baking dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs. Douse with olive oil and mix until beets are covered. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beets can be easily pierced with a fork.
Finally, with my kale I made the recipe for Coconut Grilled Kale featured in the New York Times magazine. It was world changing. The kale was sweet, tender, spicy, tangy and rich. All summer I’ve had kale, kale, and more kale and now, finally, at the end of the season, I know exactly how to cook it (good thing it’s also a winter vegetable!). I’ll admit though, in making this recipe I got lazy and did not grill the kale 1 leaf at a time. I simply place the kale and a little bit of marinade in a hot pan and stirred until it was cooked (which took about a minute).
Happily all the flavors and colored complemented each other and my parents complimented me on a job well done. That’s the thing with cooking. Sometimes you have an idea and ingredients and it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Tonight was one of those times it all came together.