It looks like the veroño (verano-otoño) we were enjoying is truly over so now that there are a dearth of Halloween pumpkins in the shops we can enjoy the hearty health properties of these orange orbs.
Originally known as “gros melons” in 1584 by French explorer Jacques Cartier, “pompions” as they were named in English eventually became known as pumpkins.
These colourful spherical superfruits have recently gained huge popularity here and Spain is now the number one producer of pumpkins in the EU. Having first arrived on Iberian shores in the 15th century from the Americas (via Asia) they are now cultivated largely in Málaga and Valencia.
Officially classified as a fruit, due to their seeds, pumpkins belong to the gourd family along with courgettes (zucchini), cucumbers, watermelon and regular melon. They are unique as you can eat the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds and even the stem!
With a composition of 90% water and three times fewer calories than their orange counterparts, the sweet potato, pumpkins rate high on the health scale. Shame the same can´t be said of pumpkin pie though. They have more fibre than kale, more potassium than bananas and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron. Frequent night time drivers will be interested to know that the high beta-carotene content can also enhance your nocturnal vision so you might spot those canny cameras before you get a speeding ticket.
The Moorish influence on Spanish cuisine can still be tasted today in numerous pastries such as ensaimadas and tarts that are filled with Cabello de Ángel (Angel´s Hair) which is essentially a caramelised fibrous paste of gourds and sugar. With the fibres resembling filaments, this Spanish version of pumpkin pie is one of many puddings that owes its heritage to 700 years of Muslim rule.
So if you´re fed up with waiting for your pumpkin to transform into a coach to take you to Prince Charming´s Thanksgiving Party you could consider the following enchanting recipe guaranteed to ensure you will remain the fairest¹ of them all for years to come.
Pumpkin Ravioli stuffed with mushrooms – serves 4
1 small pumpkin
Stuffing – 250 g various mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic, ½ onion
Sauce – 125 ml vegetable stock, red or white onion, 125 g various mushrooms, 25 ml white wine, 175 ml vegetable stock, 25 ml cream (or vegan cream), 1 sprig of rosemary
Salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil
To garnish – 1 cup of toasted hazelnuts
Cut the pumpkin into thin slices using a mandolin. You will need 16 slices at least.
Filling – Finely chop the garlic, onion and mushrooms. Sauté in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and keep on a medium heat until the liquid has evaporated. Season accordingly.
Sauce – Sauté onion in olive oil until golden in a saucepan. Add chopped mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add white wine and turn up heat until all the liquid has evaporated. Add stock, Rosemary and cook for 10 minutes.
Liquidise the sauce and return to the pan. Add the cream and boil on a medium heat for 2 minutes.
Fill the pumpkin slices with the stuffing and pin together.
Steam for 3 minutes so that they remain al dente. Remove the pins (especially from the ones your mother-in -law is going to eat) and serve on top of the sauce, sprinkled with black pepper, fresh rosemary and the toasted hazelnuts.
Send me photos of any that you have made or do an over “lasagne” version with sheets of pumpkin instead of pasta.
¹Reference to the evil vain queen in Snow White “Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the fairest one of all?”