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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: November 2, 2012

Pumpkins Are For Eating Too

Food evokes so many memories for me: Hot dogs at the ballgame, Paella and Risotto with my sons, and waffles and soft scrambled eggs my mom would make for me on Sunday morning. Smell is, of course, associated with food and stimulates our memories even further. I recall visiting Tel Aviv walking past an apartment where to my surprise the smells and aromas drifting past reminded me of my Lithuanian grandmother’s cooking over 25 years earlier. A friend had a similar experience when riding the underground tube to school in London. He knew when he was one stop from the university where he debarked because he could smell the curry that wafted through the windows and open doors.

In a similar way, fall memories such as autumn leaves, Halloween costumes, and candy treats are conjured up by the smell, taste and sight of those round orange squashes we call pumpkins. If you have an extra pumpkin you haven’t carved or decorated, consider the culinary options available to you. Pumpkins are nutritious, low in fat, sweet and tasty. Of course canned pumpkin is plentiful at the local grocery. But it doesn’t taste as good as fresh pumpkin pie, roasted slices of winter squash, or acorn/spaghetti squash drizzled with honey or tomato sauce.

When pumpkin is combined with bulgur wheat, as opposed to rice, for example, you can create a unique and tantalizing side dish or entrée. Bulgur delivers more fiber and protein than rice and is lower on the glycemic index. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. Mark Bittman, the food columnist, informs us in his encyclopedic Cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, that bulgur is inexpensive, convenient and easy to cook - 10 to 20 minutes depending on the grind. Swanson Health Products recommend combining bulgur and pumpkin together by using the pilaf method which means sautéing the bulgur in oil or butter before any liquid stock is added.


Pumpkin Pilaf with Bulgur Wheat
(Serves 6-8)


2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 cups medium size pumpkin cut into ¼ inch slices by 3-4 inches long ***
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves, whole
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Steps to Follow

Heat oil in medium size sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion, pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and curry powder. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add water as necessary if mixture sticks. Add bulgur to the pot and stir for two minutes—pilaf style. Next add broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Taste to adjust the seasoning. Buon Appetito

*** Here’s some guidance on cutting the pumpkin. To do so, it will be easier if you cut the ends off first so you can place the pumpkin flat on your countertop. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the tough skin off from top to bottom like you would an apple. Don’t fret if you cut what appears to be too much flesh from the pumpkin since it’s not expensive and you don’t want to cut yourself. If this process seems too difficult merely cut the pumpkin in half, remove the rind and the seeds, and bake in the oven at 400 F for 45 minutes. Once removed from the oven, allow a few minutes for the pumpkin to cool down. Use a tablespoon to remove the soft flesh.