Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pumpkin passion (aka healthy comfort food)

Pardon the poor quality photo but I couldn't resist giving you my take on one of the latest stars of the food-blog cognoscenti. Kabocha squash is a true gem in the vegetable world. A thing of great beauty it may not be but in terms of nutritional value and deep yumminess it rates an A grade, every time.

Housed in rough, dark-green skin with pale stripes; the deep russet-orange hue of its densely-fleshed interior gives an indication of its nutritious virtues. Low in calories (around 35 per 85g) it has a naturally sweet, chestnutty, rich creamy-textured taste. Abundantly endowed with quality beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), vitamins B, C, K, fibre, potassium and some calcium.

It's a true convenience food too, as it keeps for a good month after purchase, prior to use. The most difficult aspect involved in its preparation is breaking into its tough outer green 'shell'. Be sure to use a very sharp knife and cut with caution, to avoid spearing your own flesh!

Portion into slices (without removing the skin), place in a baking tray and cook for around 30 minutes in a hot oven (I used a fan oven at 180ยบ). It's worth checking-on, mid-way through, as the thinner outer edges of the slices will char quickly and easily, so it's best to turn them over, at the half-way point. That's when you can also sprinkle with olive oil (sesame would work as an eastern-influenced alternative) and a little ground sea salt and black pepper. Enjoy on their own, as a wonderful complement to a grilled salmon fillet, with a delicious salad, or as part of a fabulous vegetable selection plate.

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