This article was updated on 29/10/2020
There are many varieties of pumpkin but in most people’s mind, the name conjures up an image of the 'American pumpkin' which, when peeled and emptied, is used as a lantern at Halloween. This variety, which first originated from America before spreading to the rest of the world, can grow to the considerable size of 35 kg and is also the one with the highest sugar content. Remember that pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling are very different. Its skin is yellow streaked with green and its flesh is orange in colour. For the purposes of food, they say it is always better to carve an eating pumpkin that to eat a carving pumpkin, but the hollow American variety can be cooked albeit with less flavour. There are hundreds of ways of cooking pumpkin:
- oven baked like pumpkin pies
- in risotto or pumpkin soups
- fried in batter like fried pumpkin flowers
- in the form of pickle or jam.
When slightly salted and roasted, pumpkin seeds make an excellent snack but it also gives us a reddish oil for cosmetic and culinary use. Even pumpkin flowers, only the male ones though, are a treat when breaded and fried. However, what interests us most is its flesh which is sweet, slightly almond flavoured and velvety, with an aftertaste of papaya and coconut.
How do you clean and prepare pumpkin?
- Inspect the pumpkin for any rotten parts before scrubbing the outside with vegetable brush to remove any dirt.
- Rinse the pumpkin under warm water then cut in half.
- Remove the seeds using a serrated spoon or ice cream scoop.
- The pumpkin is then ready to be stewed, mashed or cubed.
What are the classic pairings for pumpkin?
Does pumpkin pair well with pickles and chilli pepper?
Nothing enhances pumpkin more than a note of piquancy. For centuries, this has been confirmed by the typical Mantuan tortelli which – as tradition demands - contain apple pickle. Even an 'ordinary' cream of pumpkin soup takes on a new assertive twist with a hot spicy note.
Do pumpkin and chestnuts pair well?
Whenever you think of autumn, pumpkin and chestnuts immediately spring to mind. Their popularity depends on the fact that they share two molecules which recall “earthiness” and the flavour of walnuts.
Is it good to pair pumpkin with nutmeg and cinnamon?
When used in desserts, the pumpkin flavour is enhanced by nutmeg and cinnamon with their sweet aftertaste. They are added to almost all gourd-based desserts.
Do pumpkin and chocolate go well together?
A good quality 70% dark chocolate with its buttery and bitter undertones can only mitigate the sweetness of pumpkin and enhance its fruity notes.
Is pumpkin and truffle a good pairing?
Truffle, the king of fungi is used to being the star of the show and does not tolerate the intrusiveness of overpowering ingredients, so it adores the gentle pumpkin. Shave truffle generously on pumpkin risotto, pumpkin soup or puree.
What are the original pairings for pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a good pairing for bacon
Like all sweet and creamy textures, pumpkin loves the savoury flavour of bacon, fried until crisp and sprinkled on top of a pumpkin and potato puree.
Pumpkin and pinus mugo pair well
Pinus mugo and its resinous, balsamic notes well suit the neutral taste of pumpkin and give a fantastic new twist to the classic pairing with aromatic herbs, such as sage and rosemary.
Pumpkin and Chanterelle mushrooms for autumnal flavours
Both being rich in earthy notes, pumpkin and mushrooms are a perfect match but chanterelle mushrooms also have a fruity flavour they share with pumpkin.
Pumpkin with lime, and ginger for Thai flavours
We have already seen that pumpkin loves flavours which are hot, spicy and citrusy so what could be better than lime and ginger, which encapsulate all such nuances of taste?
Pumpkin and gorgonzola for richness of flavour
Blue cheeses like gorgonzola team up well with the notes of dried fruit typical of pumpkin. Another excellent pairing is with a nice fresh goat’s cheese since its acidulous notes offset the sweetness of pumpkin.
What are top chefs' pairings for pumpkin
Three Michelin star pumpkin Tortelli
One of the legendary dishes of Dal Pescatore restaurant in Canneto sull’Oglio is Nadia’s three-starred pumpkin-filled tortelli, the Santini family’s signature dish.
Massimo Bottura's Tiramisù made with pumpkin: Tirami-zucca
One of the latest desserts created by World's 50 Best Restaurants star, chef Massimo Bottura from Osteria Francescana, is the tirami-zucca, which is similar to traditional tiramisù, with the addition of a pumpkin cream to mascarpone, paired up with amaretto, coffee, and grated chocolate.
Three Michelin star pumpkin with langoustines and bergamot
Three-Michelin-starred chef Jonnie Boer from De Librije in Zwolle, Holland, has created a dish combining pumpkin and langoustines, bergamot juice, pumpkin seed puree, and distilled cucumber.
Sweet, sweet pumpkin with scampi
Two dishes which have left a lasting impression on the customers of The Square and Kitchen W8 restaurants in London are signed by two-starred Philip Howard who loves pumpkin with scampi, pumpkin puree and a horn of plenty rings on a bed of creamed mushrooms.
More recipe ideas
If you’re keen to explore some classic or more adventurous pumpkin flavour combinations yourself, then these recipes will get your creative juices flowing. How about using the flesh as a delicious ingredient in this risotto before presenting it in the hollowed-out pumpkin? Still in Italy, pumpkin, gorgonzola and rocket pizza brings the best out in all three flavours and makes a perfect lunch dish. Pumpkins also make a good alternative to potatoes as a low-carb side dish – pair them with chestnuts and onions here to really celebrate autumn.