England has much going for it. So much that a list of all the truly fantastic things, the wonders, the fond little quirks in all their blessed, thatched glory, oh that would be a long list indeed. Best to leave all that for now and instead simply make the observation that England generally has crap pumpkins. This of course is due to a grave misunderstanding involving a pumpkin, a farmer, and a cow.
Some time long ago, before reality television and ABBA, some English farmer had a bumper crop of fabulously flavoursome pumpkins. The farmer ate them steamed, roasted, mashed, in soups and stews and pies and a hundred other ways until he nearly turned orange. Eventually he could eat no more, and wanting to share his bountiful harvest he chopped up what was left and fed pumpkin to his cows. Eventually his neighbour Ol’ Jim, who was a few herbs short of a Bouquet Garni, took this to mean that pumpkins were only fit for cows to eat. Ol’ Jim’s son surprised everyone when he later went on to found Tesco’s, a company which through its almost complete buyer-side dominance of farm produce trends has sadly contributed to the demise of a truly yummy pumpkin in this country.
And so now you can rarely find a really nice pumkin, and the range of choice is sadly devoid of Queensland Blues, and offers mostly “butternut squash”. The butternut pumpkin is a hit and miss affair in The VegHead’s experience. They’re rarely truly fabulous on their own though they have a nice enough flavour. Sometimes however they can be quite woody and an overall letdown. If you don’t know what a butternut pumpkin looks like, well they’re something like what a particularly boastful Papua New Guinea hills tribesman might wear as a gourd.
As luck would have it, Ginol Silamtena, the creator spirit of Papua New Guinea’s Korowai tribesman was smiling on SheWhoMustBeFed when she last bought a butternut pumpkin. It was a particularly flavoursome individual, with the added bonus of being well shaped to stand upright on an oven tray. Most of the “nose” of the gourd had already been used to make pumpkin soup, that the Loinfruit’s declared worthy of a B+. What was left was the seed pod end, together with about 5cms of the nose.
Lets get to partying with the pumpkin shall we?
Needing and doing together:
- If it weren’t already obvious – a pumpkin. Butternut if you must, or a better one if you’re especially blessed by Ginol Silamtena. Cut around and down into the “Cavern of Seed” which a very sharp and thin bladed knife, in such a way as to allow the “lid” to be replaced back on later.
- Scoop out all the seeds and the webbing with a sturdy spoon. Trim the lid.
- Measure out enough cooked haricot beans by almost filling the voided pumpkin and then tipping them back out into a bowl.
- Lightly saute a generous scoop of your favourite olives, together with a tablespoon of berbere paste. Once the paste has dissolved mix the beans through gently and thoroughly.
- Return the mix to the pumpkin. Extra points if you managed to make a perfect amount of mixture so that there is none left over (though now what will you snack on while dinner is cooking smarty-pants?)
- Secure the lid back on the pumpkin using 3 or 4 small metal skewers (wood skewers will snap for sure if you try to jam them in)
- Roast on a tray on high for 45+ minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is soft.
- Serve with a selection of other vegetables