Squash and pumpkins come in all sizes, from 'Baby Bear' and 'Jack be Little', both around 10-18 cm in diameter, to the monstrous 'Atlantic Giant'. They come in all shapes and colours too - the muted flesh coloured butternut; steel blue teardrop-shaped 'Blue Ballet'; dark green 'Table Queen' shaped like an acorn; fiery round 'Rouge vif d-Etampes'; dusky orange-brown 'Moschata Muscade' tasting faintly of nutmeg; the blue-black of the well-named 'Ironbark'; and the extravagantly top-knotted orange/green/white 'Turk's Turban'.
The texture of pumpkin pairs deliciously with cream. This adapted recipe comes from Simon Hopkinson's book The Vegetarian Option. Based on a classic Paul Bocuse recipe, Simon Hopkinson has paired back the original reducing the dish to its essence of pumpkin, cream and cheese. My adaptation is slight. Apart from reducing the quantities to work for a smaller pumpkin, I added some fried sage leaves at the end. They work but are they necessary? Frankly, no but if you want an extra something, sage makes a good partner for pumpkin. I think the word 'soup' doesn't really describe this dish well. It's more of a creamed pumpkin. Whatever you want to call it, it is rich and absolutely delicious.
I used an 'Uchiki Kuri' or onion squash weighing barely 1lb here which was enough to serve two people but 'Jack be Little' would be a good choice if you wanted to serve individual ones. It also has the advantage of a softer, edible, skin. This recipe scales up equally well for filling larger pumpkins. —Evie
- Serves 2 but can be scaled up
pumpkin weighing around 1lb (or 2 smaller pumpkins)
small garlic clove, flattened and peeled
Gruyere cheese, grated
salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
- Heat the cream with the garlic, salt and pepper until it barely simmers. Take off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
- Slice off the top of the pumpkin a quarter of the way down to make a lid and keep to one side.
- Scoop out the seeds and stringy membrane.
- Strain the infused cream into the cavity and discard the garlic.
- Add the cheese. Top with the lid.
- Bake in a roasting tin in the oven for about 1 hour until the flesh of the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork. The skin should be lightly browned - turn the heat down slightly if it is becoming burnt.
- Lift off the lid and add the crisped sage leaves for decoration (if using) and serve with a crunchy salad.