Pumpkins on the Porch and in the Pan

From our newest writer Tim Mountz.  Bio and more info about Tim coming soon.  Till then, check out his tips on pumpkins and his fav recipe….

Sometimes in the fall when I am driving around Southeastern Pa, I wonder how much of our agricultural landscape is being used to grow things for suburban house wives, whose only real connection to the landscape is their septic system, to use as front stoop decorations.

Come on people, eat those things! And not just the seeds.

I don’t get that upset when I see one of those ubiquitous orange globes cut into a scary jack o’lantern, harkening back to our pagan past. But come on, now people are using wonderful heirloom varieties as doorstops.

Take the Fairy Tail pumpkin; not only did mall shopping Americans rename this wonderful winter squash, because Musquee de Provence sounds too much like one of the three musketeers, but maybe Disney bought the rights to the genes and made farmers and supermarkets change the name. I have yet to see an i-pumpkin, but it would not shock me that much.

The flesh of the Musquee de Provence winter squash is so sweet and firm in texture that it begs to be made into the best squash soup you have ever made, or roasted and mashed with some fresh rosemary.

Musquee de Provence is just the tip of the winter squash iceberg; some of my favorites are Lakota, Delicata and Queensland blue.

Check out your local farmers markets for some of these great overdecorated and undereaten pumpkins and make some of the best soup you’ve ever had.

What you need:

2 3/4 pounds winter squash (Musquee de Provence, Queensland blue if you can find them.)

2 tablespoons olive oil, go top shelf here kids, don’t mess around with this stuff.

1 medium leek, trimmed, white and green parts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 medium parsnip, (4 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups chicken stock, make it please, if you have time.

2 three-quarter-inch slices whole-wheat bread, crusts removed

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

How to Make it:

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and mushy stuff. Cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Cook leek and garlic until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add ginger, squash and parsnips. Stir and cook over medium heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the squash and parsnips are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer half the mixture to a food processor and purée, but not too much. Return to the stockpot until warm throughout. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Toast under the broiler until golden brown. Sprinkle with Parmesan and return to the broiler until the cheese begins to melt. Serve with the croutons and top with a bit more Parmesan and finish with some nice baby Arugula.

Bon Appetit!