Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two ways with pumpkin with a hint of purple carrots!

Even though we are sisters, we have a very different approach to food and photography. Each fortnight we are going to choose the same ingredient or theme and post the result. These are results of our fifth food fight.
Pumpkin facts
  • It's  a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.
  • Antarctica is the only continent pumpkins won't grow in.
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
  • They were once recommended as a cure for freckles.
Sweet tasting buttercups
Ingrids dish: Roasted Buttercup on couscous with spiced yoghurt dressing

I love pumpkins, I love them cooked in everyway, and every other kiwi seems to agree with me. Every cafe and restaurant in Auckland seems to have pumpkin on their menu - pumpkin soup, cannelloni, rissoto . . .

I've been so into pumpkins in the past I actually managed to turn my wee man (Rhys 19 months) orange when he was 6 months old. I thought he just had 'olive skin' passed down from my Italian dad, but a visit to Plunket produced quite a different diagnosis - an overdose of carotene! 

This last week, its been feeling quite autumal, the heater is on low just to take the chill out of the air. Pumpkins, buttercups and butternuts are in season so should be on your shopping lists, eat in season, eat well and save money - Enjoy! 

Stack them up high on the plate and drizzle with creamy dressing
Roasted Buttercup on couscous with spiced yoghurt dressing
Serves 4

What you need
1 small buttercup (cut into thin slices with the skin on or off)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup (100g) couscous
1/2 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Seasalt/ pepper to taste
4 wedges of feta (optional)
Coriander (chopped) 

Spiced yoghurt dressing
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup greek style yoghurt
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon rind

How to make
Set oven tempurature to 180C.  Lay slices of buttercup on a baking tray, and drizzle with oil. Bake in oven for 30 mins (turning buttercup slices mid way through) or until golden. Place couscous in a bowl, add boiling water and lemon juice, seasalt and pepper and cover and let stand for 5 mins.

Spiced yoghurt Dressing
Combine all ingredients in a bowl ready to drizzle.

Fluff up couscous and place on each plate. Stack roasted buttercup slices on top, add a wedge of feta. drizzle with cumin yoghurt dressing and add chopped coriander. Enjoy

Vanessa's dish  - Roasted pumpkin and purple carrot soup
Grey green and grey skinned pumpkins
 I love pumpkins too, roasted, in soup, in salads and in pasta like ravioli or gnocchi - they just have that wintry and comforting feel about them. Ingrid mentioned the Italian connection and our love of pumpkins definitely didn't come from our father - he believes things cooked with their skins on are for the pigs! Funny, this sounds like he may have grown up on a Tuscan farm feeding pigs but no, more like a city "Trieste" northern Italy, so I am not sure where the piggy analogy came from.

Pumpkins are cheap, economical and have a beautiful vibrant colour. I decided to do the quintessential winter soup but rather than just pumpkin I thought I would throw in a few other winter treats I discovered at my local "posh" supermarket. Introducing purple carrots...

The famous purple carrot - stains your hands and teeth and is a little bit bitter raw!

Roasted pumpkin and winter vegetable soup with purple carrots!

You will need
Any veges that work well roasted. I used pumpkin, kumara, carrots orange and purple, onion and garlic.
Vegetable or chicken Stock (I used stock cubes keeping with the economical nature of pumpkins) 
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Perhaps curry powder if you want a spiced pumpkin
Cream - if you want a richer and more decant soup 

How to make
Roast in a pan all the vegetables smothered with olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep the skin on the garlic as it roasts it beautifully.
In a pan heat up the stock (about 1-2 litres) and add your vegetables and curry powder. This is the stage you need to squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skins and into your soup. Pop a couple of cloves in your mouth - they taste delicious and they keep away colds and the flu! 
Simmer until the stock is reduces and the soup is looking thicker. (30 mins to one hour)
Blend in a blender of processor and if desired add cream and re heat.
Season to taste

WARNING - Purple carrots make your soup go a dark brown colour!!! Its not that I wouldn't recommend them, however it just doesn't have the same feel as "orange" pumpkin soup!    
Cleaning up - and there weren't even any guests!  


  1. Gorgeous plating and photography.

  2. Thanks, We both feel we have turned a corner in the food styling/ photography stakes, and everything feels like it coming together so much better - Patience and practice practice practice!!!
    I can't bear to look at some of the photos I took even a few months ago!