Just in time. Turned out this week's food challenge was pumpkin.
My mind was already wild with ideas. I had never prepared a pumpkin before and have very rarely had pumpkin in life. But I do find that I enjoy gourd-like squashes so I figured this week's challenge would be entertaining, educational and engaging for me as a cook.
But, goodness -- how many iterations of recipes could I go through in one night alone? For pumpkin, the number turned out to be three.
I wanted to make a pumpkin curry thanks to the suggestion of a friend of mine.
But I opted last minute to make a pumpkin pizza.
I do not know from what corner of my mind this idea sprang. Not a clue. But when it came to mind I was immediately glued to the idea.
I cheated a little. I didn't make the dough from scratch (Don't judge me!) and I didn't make the pasta sauce. Yep -- file this under one of my most lazy cooking attempts.
But, I must say, I did have great fun putting this one together. First step: Slicing up the pumpkin. I must say that I honestly thought this would be easy! I pulled out the best knife I had and set to it. Seriously, I almost strained a muscle at one point. I couldn't believe the density of the pumpkin. I should have had one of those wire cutters people use to carve pumpkins. That would have been far more efficient. I think it took me a good 15 minutes with three breaks to cut through it.
I tried to get the skin off the chunks of pumpkin, but found it too difficult. I decided to boil the bits in water and apricot nectar with a bit of salt for about 20 minutes.
Next, I prepared the first layer of the pizza. I used an organic Newman's Own pasta sauce with chunks of tomatoes in it. I also sprinkled some parsley into the sauce and on the crust.
Next came the toppings! It was silly fun turning to Nancy and saying, "And what toppings would you like on your pizza? We went for mozzarella, olives, mushrooms, red and green bell peppers and lamb mince. By this point, the pumpkin was ready. But I was disappointed when I tasted it. It was so very bland. It hadn't picked up any flavor from the juice. Disappointed, I covered the toppings with pizza cheese and put the pizza in the oven. I chose then to make a kind of dessert with the pumpkin.
The dessert called for brown sugar, cloves, butter, vanilla extract and nutmeg. All the things I wanted to avoid in using the pumpkin. But when I stirred all this together, it still tasted kind of boring to me.
So, I took the pizza -- LOVELY -- out of the oven, and put the pumpkin in a pan and tried to roast them. Nancy and I began enjoying the pumpkin-less pizza. It was quite nice.
But then a strange thing happened. When the roasted pumpkin came out I was quite pleased with the flavor and opted -- last minuted -- to add some to the pizza. The verdict: Success. This was MUCH better. The pumpkin had a nice, slightly sweet flavor that complimented the pizza.