Last year while writing Purely Pumpkin, I fell in love with heirloom pumpkin varieties. Those who are unenthused about the taste and texture of pumpkin, all seem take issue with the same things: they’re too sweet and/or too bland/watery/stringy. In many instances, I agree! But this is where heirloom varieties come in.*
*When it comes to squash and pumpkin, “heirloom” doesn’t mean “exclusive” or hard-to-find. Most are available at your local grocery store.
Allow me to introduce you to an earthier, more savoury variety of pumpkin which, when roasted, snuffs any assertive sweetness, instead bringing out a meaty, umami richness: Jarrahdale.
A Brief History of the Jarrahdale Pumpkin
Soft green exterior and firm, melon-like interior, the Jarrahdale hails from New Zealand. Minimally stringy with a light, fruity flesh. It is lovely roasted whole, chunked and stewed in a curry, or sliced into wedges and steamed. I was amazed to see not only farmers’ markets and farms carrying Jarrahdale pumpkin last year, but regular grocery stores as well.
One of my favourite recipes from Purely Pumpkin was this elegant yet simple Jarrahdale pumpkin dish. It makes a beautiful vegetarian main course, salad topper or side dish to roast chicken or fish. Serve with warm flatbread for dipping or enjoy as is. With Canadian Thanksgiving just a couple of weeks away and U.S. Thanksgiving on the horizon, it’s a way to enjoy the pumpkin harvest, without the pie (or have both, if you’re like me).
Pumpkin lovers and pumpkin skeptics, please give this recipe a try – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, whatever side of the fence you sit on.
Words, recipes, and photos from Purely Pumpkin: More Than 100 Seasonal Recipes to Share, Savor, and Warm Your Kitchen, by Allison Day (that’s me)
I first had whipped feta served alongside a whole roasted cauliflower at Domenica in New Orleans, Louisiana. That appetizer was the inspiration for this recipe. Jarrahdale pumpkin, an heirloom varietal with a moss green skin and meaty tangerine interior, (becoming more and more common at supermarkets) is used here instead of cauliflower, partnered alongside glossy, balsamic-kissed onions. Cut he heftily and roasted, these veggies make an ideal vehicle for the pillowy whipped feta.
- ½ (4–5 pound) jarrahdale pumpkin or other meaty-fleshed pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 pounds of pumpkin cubes)
- 2 onions, peeled and cut into 12 thick wedges
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces feta, roughly crumbled
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, raw or toasted
- For the roasted pumpkin and onions, preheat oven to 375ºF. On a large-rimmed baking sheet, toss all roasted pumpkin ingredients; spread in a single layer. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.
- For the whipped feta, in a food processor, add cream and blend until it has a bit of body. Add feta and blend until incorporated. Scrape down sides and blend. Add lemon juice and blend until incorporated. Scrape down sides and blend for 15 to 30 seconds longer, until mixture is creamy (there will still be a few small pieces of feta).
- To serve, smear whipped feta on a serving plate or the interior of a bowl, top with roasted pumpkin and onions, and scatter with walnuts. Alternatively, add roasted pumpkin and onions to a serving plate or bowl, dollop over whipped feta, and scatter with walnuts. Serve warm or room temperature.