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The golden-fleshed pumpkin provides a welcome injection of colour in winter cooking and is the nutritional power-house of the cucurbit family with very high levels of beta carotene. A winter staple, pumpkin is a fantastic soup vegetable, beautifully coloured and rich in flavour.
Known for its twisting vines and vegetable fruits, the curcubit family includes pumpkin, butternut, cucumber, melons and zucchini. They are all tender plants, needing warm temperatures to germinate and collapsing at the first hint of frost. All develop tougher skins as they ripen, but only pumpkins and gourds are study enough to store over the winter. Pumpkins can be planted in late summer, spring and autumn and prefer a sheltered sunny spot with well-drained, rich, fertile soil.
Because of its great nutritional value, pumpkin makes a wonderful addition to winter curries, risottos and stews. I also like to grate pumpkin into chocolate cakes for extra moisture and nutrition (carrot can be used to the same effect). Pumpkin roasts wonderfully when cut into wedges and drizzled with a little oil and a splash of maple syrup or golden syrup to caramelise during cooking. I like to make pumpkin risotto with chunks of roasted pumpkin, a couple of heads of roasted garlic and chopped spinach or rocket stirred through just before serving with parmesan or blue cheese. Delicious!
These are some of my favourite recipes for pumpkin:
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