Happy Thanksgiving... almost!
In the spirit of the upcoming feast, let's take a moment to talk about one of the stars of the season: pumpkins. While pumpkin pie has earned its place as a Thanksgiving classic, there's a wide world of squash and pumpkin varieties waiting to elevate your holiday menu. This chef's heart skips a beat at the thought of surprising friends and family with not just any food, but a cornucopia of flavors and textures.
The Pumpkin Pie Paradox:
Pumpkin pie, in all its cinnamon-spiced glory, remains a Thanksgiving favorite. But have you ever stopped to wonder why the sugar pumpkin is still the most common choice for this iconic dessert? It's time to break free from the pumpkin pie paradox and explore the vast array of delicious varieties available.
Dive into Diversity:
Let's talk about some unsung heroes in the pumpkin and squash world. Move over, sugar pumpkin; make way for these culinary gems that can seamlessly transition from sweet to savory:
Red Kuri: A vibrant, teardrop-shaped squash with a sweet, nutty flavor.
Delicata: True to its name, this squash has a delicate, edible skin, making it a versatile choice.
Blue Hubbard: With its blue-gray skin and sweet orange flesh, it's perfect for both savory and sweet dishes.
Cinderella: Named for its fairytale appearance, this pumpkin is a real-life magic ingredient.
Rouge Vif D'etampes: My personal favorite, known for its striking red-orange hue and sweet, smooth texture.
These are just a taste of the hundreds of varieties out there, each offering a unique twist to your Thanksgiving spread.
From Soup to Pie: The Versatility of Squashes and Pumpkins:
What's truly exciting about these varieties is their ability to play a dual role in the kitchen. Imagine a world where your favorite squash transforms seamlessly from a hearty soup to a luscious pie. Here's where the real magic happens:
Spiced Red Kuri and Maple Soup, Toasted Hazelnuts, and Rosemary Oil: Picture a bowl brimming with the rich, velvety goodness of Red Kuri squash, balanced by the sweetness of maple, and topped with the crunch of toasted hazelnuts. Drizzle some rosemary-infused oil for an aromatic finish.
Baked Delicata Boats with Ricotta and Pancetta Crisps: Delicata squash takes center stage in this savory delight. Halve it, fill it with creamy ricotta, and crown it with pancetta crisps for a dish that marries comfort and sophistication.
Rouge Vif D'etampes Pumpkin Pie with Honey and Lavender Cream: Elevate your pumpkin pie game by using the Rouge Vif D'etampes. Its natural sweetness pairs beautifully with honey, and a hint of lavender in the cream adds a touch of elegance.
The Double Win: Less Waste, More Experimenting:
Choosing varieties that lend themselves to both sweet and savory applications isn't just about expanding your palate—it's also a sustainability win. Less kitchen waste means more room for experimentation. So, the next time you find yourself at the farmers market, keep your eyes peeled for these unique squashes and pumpkins. Not only will you be delighting your taste buds, but you might also discover a new favorite to grow in your own garden next fall.
Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude, and what better way to show appreciation than through a thoughtfully crafted meal? Break free from the pumpkin pie mold and embrace the diversity of squashes and pumpkins this season. Whether you're simmering a fragrant soup, baking a savory delight, or crafting the perfect dessert, let your creativity run wild.