Pascale's Kitchen: Pumpkin season

Pumpkin, which is part of the squash family, is usually purchased in Israel in large chunks that are wrapped in plastic wrap. It can be prepared in stews, soups, salads and sauces.

(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Pumpkin holds a very dear place in my kitchen. Anyone who grew up eating North African cuisine knows that pumpkin can be prepared in spicy, sweet or savory dishes alike. It goes well with couscous and slow-cook stews made with garbanzo beans, and some people make jam from pumpkin, which is commonly served at Mimouna celebrations.
Pumpkin also appears often in Turkish, Egyptian and Spanish cooking, and in Sephardi tradition it is commonly served as a dessert for Rosh Hashanah either sliced or mashed, covered with syrup and dusted with cinnamon.
No matter how you prepare it, pumpkin always comes out tasty. There are a number of types of pumpkin that can be purchased in stores and markets. There are varying sizes and textures that can be used to prepare puree, soup, or as pieces baked in the oven. It’s a great food for vegetarians and vegans, too, and also appears in a variety of desserts.
Pumpkin, which is part of the squash family, is usually purchased in Israel in large chunks that are wrapped in plastic wrap. It can be prepared in stews, soups, salads and sauces.
In addition, there are other types of squash, such as butternut squash, which are pear-shaped and much smaller than pumpkins, which can be halved, filled and served as individual servings.
Acorn squash, which is a newer addition to Israeli cuisine, is a very hard, star-shaped squash that is difficult to peel. This is easily overcome by cooking it in its entirety and then cutting it open after it’s softened. Acorn squash makes a very nice impression and is tasty when served with thyme and olive oil.
Spaghetti squash, which is a little harder to come by in Israeli markets, can often be found only directly from the grower or at farmer’s markets. It received its name due to the fibrous nature of the flesh, which looks a bit like spaghetti.
Tipascale for preparing pumpkin:
Pumpkin doesn’t need to be cut in any special way. It’s enough to cut it into chunks, and then bake on a tray lined with baking paper. Just season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Bake them for 30 minutes and they are ready to eat.
Another way to bake pumpkin is to cut it into small cubes and roast them for 40 minutes in an oven. Let them cool and then store them in an airtight container. You can use them to garnish any salad or cooked grains, such as quinoa or barley.
Makes 6-8 servings.
600 gr. pumpkin, peeled and cut into big pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into big pieces
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp. fresh ginger, crushed
10 cups of water
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. fresh coriander leaves
1 container sour cream
½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
Add the pumpkin, carrots, garlic, ginger and water to a large pot and bring to a boil over a medium flame. Cook for 30 minutes until vegetables have softened.
Add the salt, pepper, coriander and stir. Bring back to a boil and cook for 15 more minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup. Cook for another 5-10 minutes over a low flame and then adjust seasoning. Serve hot. Adorn with sour cream, cilantro and roasted pumpkin seeds. You can also drizzle with a little olive oil.
Level: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Status: Dairy or parve.
Makes 30 round kubeh balls, or 8-10 servings.
3 cups semolina
1½ cups water
¾ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
3-4 Tbsp. oil
3 medium onions, chopped finely
½ kg. ground beef
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baharat
¾ tsp. black pepper
3 celery leaves, chopped finely
2 Tbsp. oil
1 onion, chopped finely
3 celery leaves, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely
9 cups water
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. black pepper
1 kg. pumpkin, cut into large pieces
To prepare the kubeh, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and then let it sit for 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in frying pan and then sauté the onion pieces until they become translucent. Then, add the ground beef and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the flame and add the spices and celery leaves. Stir well. Form 30 meatballs.
Take a bit of the kubeh mixture and flatten it as evenly as possible. Then place a meatball in the center and close the kubeh up around the meat. Roll into a ball and then place on a tray. You can get your hands wet or put a little oil on them to facilitate the process.
To prepare the soup, heat oil in a large pot and then sauté the onion and celery leaves. Add the chopped tomato and then pour in the water.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, lemon juice and spices.
Bring to a boil and then lower flame and cook for 15 minutes. Add the kubeh balls and bring to a boil again. Add the pumpkin pieces and cook for another 25-30 minutes over a low flame. Serve hot.
Level: Easy/Medium.
Time: 1.5 hours.
Status: Meat.
Tipascale  for storing kubeh
You can prepare a large number of kubeh balls and freeze them. If you’re concerned that they will become stuck to each other when they freeze, you can line an ice-cube tray with plastic wrap and then place one ball in each section.
Makes 12-14 muffins.
2 eggs
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey or silan
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup pumpkin, cooked and mashed
½ cup whole spelt flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. ground anise seeds
2 Tbsp. walnuts, chopped coarsely
Serving suggestion:
2 Tbsp. peanuts, walnuts and almonds, roasted and chopped
Add the eggs and peanut butter to a bowl and beat with a whisk. While whisking, add the honey or silan, vanilla and mashed pumpkin. Mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda, spices and crushed nuts. While mixing, pour dry mixture into pumpkin mixture. Stir until smooth.
Line a muffin tray with papers liners and then spray with oil. Fill muffin holders about ¾ and then sprinkle with crushed nuts.
Bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 190° or until a toothpick comes out dry. Let cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Level: Easy/Medium.
Time: 30 minutes.
Status: Parve.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Text and styling: Pascale Perez-Rubin