PACIFIC PALATE – Don Genova

Don’t just carve your pumpkin – eat it.

There they are. The leaves and vines have shriveled away to reveal the round, orange spheres that herald the arrival of Thanksgiving and of course, Halloween. As you drive the Pat Bay Highway north towards Sidney and Swartz Bay, coasting down the hill towards Islandview Road, glance right, and you can’t miss them. Fields full of hundreds of ripe, orange pumpkins right next to the Michell farm store. My wife likes to call these ‘free-range pumpkins,’ since many of them don’t seem to be attached to a plant from our distant view.

I have a history with pumpkins. My dad used to plant about half-an-acre of them in the back part of our large garden. In the fall I would climb onto our garden tractor with its little trailer, fill it up and pilot it down to the end of our driveway, where passers-by would stop and choose their Halloween pumpkins. Just 25 cents for a small pumpkin, 50 cents for a large one. One weekend I raked in a whole 30 dollars! I was rich, until my mom said, “Hand it over. That’s too much for you.”

Oh well. Today pumpkins are still relatively inexpensive, especially when you take advantage of the whole pumpkin. Just paint a face on your pumpkin for Halloween. Then you have all the flesh to use in recipes like pumpkin pie, pumpkin crème brulee, or savoury dishes like the one I learned in Italy, tortelli di zucca, little pockets of pasta dough stuffed with roast pumpkin sweetened with amaretti cookies and served with a robust sage butter sauce. Save the seeds too and roast them on a baking sheet in a hot oven with sea salt or maybe a little smoked paprika or spicy Organic Fair chili lime salt.

Check around your local bakeries for pumpkin specials as well. In Cowichan Bay, True Grain Organic Bakery always makes a delicious pumpkin-shaped and flavoured challah bread and you’ll find a great pumpkin loaf at Victoria’s Ashcroft House Bed and Breakfast. Orange you glad it’s pumpkin time?

Don Genova is a Vancouver Island-based award-winning freelance journalist specializing in food and travel. Find him online at dongenova.com.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BEHIND BARS: Relaxed and refreshed at The Palms

Sneak peek at Victoria’s freshest new bar

Ocie Elliott: Facing the Music

Victoria duo describes effects of COVID crisis

YOUR AUGUST HOROSCOPE: It’s Leo Season!

Georgia Nicols giving us insight on what lies ahead this summer

30 years later, Sue Medley’s hit ‘Dangerous Times’ more relevant than ever

Vancouver Island singer/songwriter reflects on her ’90s national hit

Psychological thriller filmed on northern Vancouver Island debuts on AppleTV

‘Woodland’ is set in Haida Gwaii, but was filmed around Port McNeill

Nanaimo Fringe Festival productions adapt to new online format

10th annual festival to be live-streamed due to COVID-19

Island pub wants people to ‘drop five’ to keep music alive

Royston’s Charlie Aiken thinks his plan can help artists and venues alike

First Arts Alive sculptures of 2020 now installed

Oak Bay’s annual public art exhibition starts anew

Nanaimo fantasy writer co-authoring Old Norse phrase book

Joshua Gillingham partnering with author and professor on ‘Old Norse for Modern Times’

Cowichan’s 39 Days of July deemed a success, despite COVID-19

Musical productions live streamed from the Duncan Showroom this year

Gabriola’s Isle of the Arts Festival goes ‘mini’ on 10th anniversary

Gabriola Arts Council presents scaled-down, workshop-only IOTA Mini festival

Sooke Fine Arts Show reaches new audiences with virtual showcase

Voting for People’s Choice Award open until Aug. 3

Most Read