Friday, January 25, 2013

Roasted Pumpkin with Balsamic Reduction


After being urged by my Australian friend to try her favorite breakfast cereal, I bought a box of Weetabix.  At first I thought that I was doing something wrong.  Was I supposed to toast it first?  As soon as I added milk it became a soggy, gloppy mess.  After consultation I discovered that this was how it was supposed to be.  But one person's gross is another person's gourmet.  Weetabix is great for those who have no teeth...or taste buds.  Ditto for Vegemite.  In fact, I started developing a hypothesis that because of the extremely hot weather in Australia, everything must be done at a slow rate to conserve energy, including development of taste buds. When Australians wake up in the morning, their taste buds don't yet wake up with them.  They gradually begin to arise and only peak late in the day.  That is why Australian breakfasts are so unpalatable while dinners are fantastic, and dessert is mind bending.

My Australian friend likes to entertain and her Sunday roasts are legendary in the neighborhood.  At the latest supper, another Australian showed up with roasted pumpkin.  I've had a bit of experience with pumpkin (my American friends refer to most pumpkins as squash) but usually in soup or as an unsavory savory.  I once tried to consume the innards of my jack-o-lantern and it was not pleasant.  This pumpkin was sweet and delicious.  I was told that it was a Jap pumpkin.  It was roasted along with beetroot and served with a blue cheese vinaigrette on a bed of arugula.


Yesterday I saw the medium sized, green skinned pumpkins in the market and bought one.  It is called Japanese or Kabocha.  I lugged it home and then spent a few minutes scratching my head as I wondered about the easiest way to dispatch it.  In the end I went after it with my chopper.  I roasted it and drizzled it with a balsamic reduction.  I thought the acidity of the balsamic vinegar was a good accompaniment with the sweetness of the pumpkin.  Then I consumed it (not the whole thing!) with a pan fried pork chop.  I like to eat something sweet with pork chops and have traditionally gone with apple sauce or a roasted apple but I think that roasted pumpkin is the way to go from here on out.

Roasted Pumpkin with Balsamic Reduction

1 Japanese pumpkin
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or artisanal oil if you prefer)
a pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C)

Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds and guts.  Cut the pumpkin into segments approximately 1/4 inches (2 cm) wide.  Lay the slices on a roasting pan lined with parchment paper and lightly coat each side with oil.  I used a brush to dispense the oil but you can also lightly drizzle the oil over the slices and toss lightly.  Sprinkle salt over the top.


Place the roasting pan in the center of the oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Take out the pan and turn the slices over.  Roast for another 15 minutes or until the slices are slightly caramelized.

While the pumpkin is roasting...

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to boil.  Lower the heat to low and simmer the balsamic vinegar until it reduces by at least half.  I like a syrupy reduction so I usually keep the vinegar simmering until only forty percent remains.  Be careful not to raise the heat beyond a simmer because it can burn the sauce.




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