Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cuban-Style Savory Pureed Pumpkin

Cuban pumpkin puree Pure de calabaza
Here is another old-fashioned recipe from pre-revolutionary Cuba, which likely dates back to the island's colonial period. In Cuba, it is made with calabaza, a Caribbean squash that is larger and less sweet than American pumpkin. You might be able to find calabaza at ethnic markets if you live somewhere with a significant Cuban, West Indian, or other Caribbean population.

Otherwise, Hubbard squash is an excellent substitute, but you can also use regular American pumpkin (preferably one of the older, less sweet varieties rather than "pie" pumpkins). Do NOT use canned pumpkin pie filling because it is sweetened and flavored with incompatible spices. Pure, natural canned pumpkin can be used, however. I used some leftover smoked pumpkin that we had stored in our deep freezer since last winter, and the smokiness -- although not authentically Cuban -- added depth and subtle earthiness which paired nicely with the grilled pork chops we served with this side dish.

1 lb natural unsweetened pumpkin puree*
2 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

*If using freshly-cooked or previously frozen pumpkin puree, squeeze out or drain off as much liquid as possible.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then saute onion and garlic until translucent and tender. Add the pumpkin puree, season with salt & pepper and stir well to thoroughly combine. Simmer until heated through and thick (adjust heat if necessary to keep at a low simmer and avoid scorching), about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot as a side dish for beef, pork or chicken. Serves 4.

Zestfully yours,

PS:  For more authentic Cuban and Cuban-inspired recipes, follow us on Pinterest and be sure to browse through our Cuban Recipes board.

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