My first was an accident, a mishap, the result of unintentional volunteer seed spreading through unprotected contact. A certain somebody had thoughtfully deposited half of a mouldy supermarket pumpkin into the compost heap which, much to my annoyance, somehow lodged itself onto the prongs of my garden fork every time I turned the heap. After much cursing, It eventually disintegrated and I spread the compost around the base of my chilli plants as mulch. At this very moment, I had become the unwitting propagator of pumpkins.
The Chinese lady next door told me that pumpkins are ready to harvest once the white splotches turn a yellow, creamy colour. My dad the self-proclaimed 'expert' confirmed this but failed to mention that pumpkins require a few weeks to cure before eating. So excited about picking pumpkins was I, that I cracked one open immediately and made a big batch of soup that tasted like total ASS.
I thought I'd done something terribly wrong. Maybe pumpkins and chillies are not fitting companion plants and are instead, bitter instigators. Maybe pumpkins DETEST being watered with seaweed emulsion. I was full of self-doubt and loathing and distasteful pumpkin. I wept silently while the pile of pumpkins slowly grew.
A friend of mine offered me a copy of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi after inadvertently ordering one too many online. When I chanced upon the recipe for 'Crusted pumpkin wedges with soured cream', the pumpkins too received a second chance, lest I be left with a mouldy collection as a permanent reminder of inadvertent mistakes.
Parmesan-crusted pumpkin wedges with yoghurt
a recipe adapted and completely bastardised from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
750 g pumpkin (skin on)Cut the pumpkin into wedges 2cm thick.
40 g Parmesan, finely grated
30 g white breadcrumbs
25 g unsalted butter, melted
26 g black Tuscan kale leaves, roughly chopped
7 g garlic, finely grated
3 g thyme leaves
1 1/2 g black pepper, coarsely ground
2 g salt
1 g ground cumin
1 g ground nutmeg
50 g olive oil
Toss with olive oil to coat and arrange onto a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180ºC.
Toss all of the remaining ingredients together and press firmly onto the sliced pumpkin.
Return to oven for an additional 30 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through and crust is golden.
Serve with a zesty natural or European style yoghurt.