Midlands Food Hero – Pumpkin Season!

Autumn is pumpkin time in the Midlands and every year the Dargle Local Market celebrates with a pumpkin competition. Squashes come in so many colours, shapes and sizes, and taste quite different from one another too. Eidin Griffin won the prize for the biggest one, grown from heirloom Connecticut Field Pumpkin seed. Her favourite way of serving pumpkin is in a Thai style curry which is ideal to chase winter blues away! Chop up two big onions, fry them until translucent. Add a couple of fresh chili-peppers, one medium sized pumpkin (chopped up), five large potatoes, a handful of chopped carrots, salt and black pepper and fry for 5-10 minutes. Add enough water or stock to cover the veggies, bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes, add a can of coconut milk and pop in your hot-box for an hour. Garnish with fresh coriander.

There were plenty of delicious pumpkin treats to eat at the market too. There was pasta with roast butternut, flash fried sage leaves and toasted sunflower seeds and delicious slow cooked pumpkin soup. Rose Downard’s Pecan, Pumpkin and Ginger muffins went down a treat. Make some before pumpkin season is over:

1 1/2 cups flour, Pinch of salt, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup pumpkin purée, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 cup chopped pecans, 1-2 Tbsp chopped preserved ginger.

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Mix the pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, water and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix. Fold in the preserved ginger and nuts. Spoon mixture into a prepared muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

At this friendly community affair, everyone shares recipes to deal with the abundance – Dennis Sokhela declared the best way to eat pumpkin is as isijingi – mashed with soft mielie meal (or polenta), Robin Fowler loves to roast pumpkins in avocado oil and honey.

As winter sets in, try this: Roast crescents of pumpkin or butternut in the oven until browned – sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon first. Fry small peeled onions until golden, add whole peeled garlic cloves and pitted prunes and just enough water to cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, adding a little more as needed. The onions become soft and caramelised all the way through and the prunes start to disintegrate into the sauce – should take about 20 minutes. At the end add a handful of blanched almonds. Pour the sauce over the pumpkin pieces with lots of fresh parsley.

Food Hero eidin griffin robin fowler dennis sokhela pumpkin market may 2014

Pumpkin was the flavour of the day as Eidin Griffin, Rob Fowler and Dennis Sokhela presented their winning produce at the local Dargle Market. Photo: Nikki Brighton