I am a huge fan of Butternut squash and once pumpkin season comes round its another string to the culinary bow, the local framers market will soon be overflowing with pumpkins so now is the time to experiment with some different ways to serve yours.
When I worked in Australia one of the items I remember most was a butternut pumpkin, this combination was just perfect with large pieces to work with and the taste and texture of a butternut squash, I’m still searching for that variety here in Canada.
Pumpkin works well whether its sweet or savoury and even with a dish that has both going on.
I opted to turn this early season pumpkin into a variety of textures to make it more interesting to the palate, so I’m making a pumpkin and Parmesan souffle, pumpkin risotto and simple roast pumpkin giving a little taster of each for an amazing start to a dinner party.
As always the first job is to get the pumpkin peeled using a sharp knife and a large chopping board, then I scooped the seeds out along with the fibrous innards.
Then I cut the pieces I wanted for roasting and tossed in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and some of my home grown thyme, I roasted this with whole garlic cloves and flecks of butter until everything was tender.
Taking the trimmings I boiled them in salted water till tender and drained well, if I had the time I would have made a muslin pouch and hung the cooked pumpkin over night in the fridge to remove all the moisture.
Souffle time, I made a simple bechamel and added some of the cooked pumpkin, Parmesan and seasoning and placed in the fridge till cold.
Separating an egg and adding the yolk to the cold pumpkin mix, whisking the egg white till stiff and combining the two. I brushed a mould with butter and then finely chopped walnuts which serve two purposes, one for flavour and secondly to allow the souffle to grow up the sides as it cooks so not to stick.
Risotto is a great way to use pumpkin and in a saucepan I added chopped shallots, garlic and thyme to butter and olive oil softening the mix.
I added the arborio rice which soaked up the oils and flavours then gradually I added a hot vegetable stock (you can use a chicken stock) in stages incorporating then adding more stock until cooked, this process takes about 25 minutes and once you start you can’t stop! I added the remainder of the cooked pumpkin and the slow roasted garlic bulbs and smashed into the risotto with Parmesan and seasoning.
I now had a soft souffle with pumpkin seeds and walnuts to give a little bite, Al dente risotto and crisp roast pumpkin, all of this I brought together with a local honey and parsley dressing for the sweetness, and wow this tasted so good!
Pumpkin offers a vitamin and antioxidant rich food that is versatile and colourful, so don’t just use them for lanterns and pies try something different this year.

If you would like to make these dishes then I’m running a class on October 2nd here in Saskatoon.
You can book on this website

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