Pumpkin is one of my favourite vegetables for more reasons than one. Very few people realize Pumpkin is as good as a fruit in terms of the antioxidants it packs. Especially the Carotenoids of pumpkin are comparable to Papayas, I keep telling people who don't like pumpkin.
Yes a few friends actually used to hate pumpkin and have started eating now after this comparison with fruit. More recipe ideas also work because most people who don't like pumpkin have actually tasted something insipid in the past and were turned off pumpkin for life.
Let's change that and make more people enjoy pumpkin. Pumpkin is after all one of the desi super foods not only because it packs superb nourishment but also because it grows without much fuss, all parts of the plant (flowers, leaves, fruit and seeds) are edible and most farmers grow it without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
I prefer buying a whole pumpkin so I get all the seeds to myself. We love eating the seeds as a snack or sprinkled over salads etc. Try popping a few fresh pumpkin seeds in your mouth next time when you chop a pumpkin and see how fresh and delicious they are.
Did you know pumpkins can be stored in a loft for more than 8 months if it gets perfectly ripe and the skin is undamaged?
In fact I once saw special hanging baskets made of rope in an old Hyderabad market where they had hung many pumpkins and I found it a great way to display them and keep them good (aerated) for a long time. They had hung Ash gourds along with Pumpkins too which keeps well if it is mature enough.
Even after cutting the pumpkin into wedges, you can cling-wrap them and keep refrigerated for a couple of months. If a portion of the pumpkin starts rotting you can just discard the affected portion and use the rest. How wonderful is that?
Coming back to the pumpkin salad, I have some nice Sage growing in the garden right now and I am fearing it might perish in the rains. Though I sun dry a lot of the sage leaves but using them fresh is something I look forward to. This sage butter infused pumpkin and baby potato and paneer salad was born out of this desire to use the sage, the pumpkin from a farm in Manesar as well as the baby potatoes from Tijara farm. Fresh produce inspired me like nothing else.
(2 meal servings)
500 gm pumpkin with yellow orange flesh, preferably with skin
12 baby potatoes boiled and peeled
100 gm paneer cubed in bite sized pieces, kept in warm water
2 dozen fresh sage leaves or use dry
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic or a bit more (I used 2 tsp)
salt and pepper to taste
chilli flakes or paprika powder as per taste
Mix the butter, garlic and half of the torn sage leaves together.
Choose a pan that is wide and large so all the vegetables can be spread out in a single layer. Else you may want to bake everything together. I like pan frying as it is quick and doesn't heat up the kitchen.
Heat the pan and add the butter mix, let it melt and add the pumpkin cubes. Toss to coat well, sprinkle salt and let it cook on medium heat, tossing it all after every couple of minutes.
Add the halved baby potatoes and paneer cubes. Let them brown along with the pumpkin pieces while it is being tossed and cooked. Take care not to crush the pieces while tossing.
Sprinkle pepper, adjust salt and keep tossing till you get the right texture that you prefer. We like it cooked through but firm, lightly charred in a few places.
I repeat if you mix everything together and bake it in a wide baking tray your work will be easier so do that if it suits.
Empty in a serving dish and serve right away. This salad is best eaten warm but we loved it even at room temperature. It has become a lunch box salad for Arvind too.
Rocket leaves, baby spinach, purslane greens etc can be added to the serving platter and it does make this salad all the more desirable. I grow these leaves so it is easier to get. Try growing a few leafy greens that you can use over your salads all year round.
Time to make this salad with or without fresh leafy greens. Sage butter is the flavour that takes baby potatoes to another level but pumpkin was very happy in this company too. I was actually surprised to see how paneer took to this salad so well.
Here is a pumpkin, chickpea and paneer salad made with thyme butter.
Here is another caramelized pumpkin salad with garlic thyme butter and cheddar.
I am shocked to see I haven't yet posted a pumpkin wedge salad (steak) that I make with calamondin tahini dressing. You can see it here on my Instagram feed.
Pumpkin is delicious. You haven't tried a nice recipe if you don't agree with me here :-)