Had lunch at a friend’s place recently, and she showed me her new cookbook: Yotam Ottolenghi’s PLENTY. It’s a vegetarian cookbook, she said she is cooking more veggie dishes is because her daughter’s bf is vegetarian. Anyway, my friend never likes buying or keeping excessive things in her house and she has put bookmarks on those she would like to try, so this cookbook must be something. I heard of Ottolenghi’s restaurant but never been when I was in UK. A few days ago, I went to Bider and Tanner, my favorite bookstore in Basel, and found they have PLENTY in stock. I initially planned to order online but thought will do more research first but then this first edition standing in front of me looks very inviting so with further delay I got myself this copy. I was very excited to dig into my first vegetarian cookbook and started bookmarking as well. I have always wanted to get a vegetarian cookbook but didn’t know which one to get as I want to do it right. And I am glad I made the right choice. Ottolenghi is not vegetarian himself but he was asked to write a column in The Guardian featuring his veggie dishes and overtime, he got popular from this. Reading his foreword, he has nicely described the increased popularity of vegetarian cuisine, where do they come from. I am just one of them that he described that there is a group of people who are not 100% vegetarian but would like to eat more healthily and eat less meat.
Anyhow, among of those I bookmarked, I have chosen to make his crusted pumpkin wedges. I have a Japanese pumpkin, Kabocha in the garage. Kobocha is easily accessible in Hong Kong and US but not in Switzerland. When I saw Kobocha available in a health food store in my neighbourhood, I was so thrilled and without hesitation and bought one.
So with a special squash, it sounds like the intense, sweet and starchy texture of Kabocha will fit perfectly for this recipe, although it says most pumpkins would work.
The results and responsed came out extremely well, I was a bit skeptical at the beginning that my family members may not like it but they all gave thumbs up. I have not had time to explore many new dishes lately but this one is a hit, will definitely make again. I think I will use butternut squash if Kabocha is not available. Since it’s Friday night, I prepared our dinner in tapas fashion, crusted pumpkin, some Serrano Jamon, cheese, Japanese bite size August beef steak and a bottle of wine. The whole preparation was very quick except a little time to prepare the crust but luckily Marc was had been really good today, he was able to entertain himself with the kitchenware I provided him. He seems to like cooking but of course too early to conclude but at least he is interested so far.
I am not too sure if it is okay to post the recipe here due to copyright issue but I can highlight a few things from the recipe.
- Cut pumpkin wedges into 1cm thick, I cut some of mine less that 1cm, still worked nicely
- The crust is made of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, chopped thyme, crushed garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper
- The sour cream dip initially called for mixing some dill but I dislike dill and have adapted to garlic salt, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
- Line the wedges on baking sheet in a baking tray, brush olive oil on top of the wedges, sprinkle generously the crust on top, press gently with finger. I drizzled a bit more olive oil on top to make the top a bit more moist.
- Bake in preheated oven at 190C, in middle rack for about 30″ or until pumpkins are cooked through.
- Transfer to plate, sprinkle more lemon zest on top and serve with the sour cream dip.
Note: It’s really true that you can eat the crusts at well!
Enjoy!!! The pictures are not so great but they really are fingerlicking!
And what other nice way to cook the Kobacha squash since we cannot finish the Kabocha in one go? I made tempura the other day, it was perfect and one of my favorite dish to order when I go to Japanese restaurant. I used Japanese tempura flour, worked perfectly and very easy to do.