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Gardener and Gourmet Newsletter

Want to know what's good in the market right now? Check this new feature in each issue. We evaluate the local market for seasonal produce, and spotlight the best.

The approach of Thanksgiving always means that numerous members of the gourd family appear in the produce markets. Besides the varieties that are intended solely for decorative purposes, we also find pie pumpkins and winter squash. Either one keeps very well at room temperature, but for long term storage cool temperatures and high humidity are needed. To prepare for use in the kitchen, cut the squash or pumpkin through the stem end into manageable pieces. Remove the seeds and strings and reserve in a colander. Lightly oil the pieces and place them, skin side up, in a baking pan. Place about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan. Roast in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh can be pierced easily with a fork. When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh into a work bowl with a spoon, discarding the tough skin.

Although custard-based pies are the standard use for winter squash and pumpkin during this season, a more interesting and adaptable recipe is:

Pumpkin or Winter Squash Soup

One pie pumpkin about 9 inches in diameter or an equivalent amount of winter squash will serve four to six for this recipe.

In a saucepan, sweat a handful of chopped shallots in unsalted butter until they are translucent. Add 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock and the pumpkin or squash flesh. Simmer 10 minutes. Cool, puree, and reheat to serving temperature. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and a sprinkling of ground mace or nutmeg.

For an interesting variation, purchase as many small acorn-type squashes as you have guests. Cut the stem ends off the squashes as for a Jack-o-lantern, and remove the seeds and strings to create a serving bowl. Cook them upside down in the oven as described above. Reheat before serving, filled with the soup. Because most of the bowl is edible, you can stretch the number of servings from a single batch of soup to about eight.

Gardener and Gourmet Newsletter
November 19, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 17
Copyright (C) 1998, John H. Tullock. All rights reserved.
Published twice a month by Gardener and Gourmet,
3405 East Red Bud Drive, Knoxville, TN 37920-3655
(423) 573-0373

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