Serious Eats: Recipes

The Crisper Whisperer: Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Note: You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays to help us cook through seasonal surplus with ease.

[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

In the Crisper

Featured Veg: Pumpkin
Prep: Wash well. Prick flesh deeply in several places with a small, sharp knife
Roast: Whole (pricked) at 400° F until tender inside, an hour or more
Purée: When cooled, cut in half, remove seeds and stringy flesh. Scoop out remaining flesh and purée in food processor until smooth
Store: Freeze purée for up to a year for use in a wide variety of recipes

This week I finally got around to patching a gaping hole in my food-literature education by reading M. F. K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf. Among other well-told strategies for enjoying the results of frugal cooking, Fisher advocates preparing and roasting a large variety of dishes at once, filling the oven with as many pans as it will hold to conserve energy and money. I love the efficiency of that approach but, to put it mildly, I'm not always organized enough to produce two weeks' worth of meals in one go. Like, ever.

What I can do, and have started doing as a matter of routine (and, to be honest, as a matter of free therapy) every fall, is to collect my weight in pumpkins and other orange-fleshed winter squash, poke the bejeezus out of them with a knife, pack them into a hot oven on sheet pans, and walk away for an hour. Kabochas, butternuts, buttercups, acorns, Red Kuris—they've all been victims of this savagery, sometimes all at once. When they're cooled, I purée the tender flesh, pack it into pint containers, and freeze it for up to a year for use in soups, baked goods, pasta or risotto, curries, you name it. It makes me feel like a slightly deranged Martha Stewart, which is a surprisingly good feeling.

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One of the highest and best uses of pumpkin purée is my friend Vivian's ancient family recipe for pumpkin bread. It uses delicately flavored olive oil and plenty of warm winter spices and has a truly exceptional flavor and texture. I've been wanting to share this recipe with you since before The Crisper Whisperer was a reality. I'm so glad it's time.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from Vivian Hasbrouk's Gibson-family recipe.

About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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