History of Greek Food

PUMPKIN RECIPES with a twist

Pumpkins. Curcubitae!!!
Round, oblong, or violin-shaped, yellow, orange, yellow-green, green, smooth or grooved pumpkins. There are many varieties, from mini to maxi. One of them, Lagenaria siceraria (bottle gourd), was widely grown in Greece from ancient times for its use as vessel or utensil. It is interesting that this curcubita “is generally considered to be the only cultivated plant common to both hemispheres prior to 1492’.

What a pity that today we don’t give pumpkin the appreciation it deserves; however, in past it was a popular ingredient in the cuisines of rural Greece.

I am not going to talk about the fried savory or sweet pumpkin slices that were such a hit with children.
I will not talk about the delicious pumpkin and cheese pies; or about baked pumpkin, croquettes, rice and pumpkin dolmathes or pumpkin cooked with trahana.
I will not even talk about my favorite pumpkin al saor (ala savoro) or about the flavorful stew of the cuisine of the poor: pumpkin, chestnuts, onions, one or two potatoes, a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf, a small piece of orange peel … what delicious delicacy!
I will leave aside the spoon sweet, the compote, the ‘naked’ pumpkin pie** and the crispy phyllo pies, despite the fact that I am a big fan of a Peloponnesian pie filled with pumpkin, spinach, walnuts, flavored with cinnamon and honey.

I would like to share with you two recipes that hold my attention.
The first one is a recipe for anchovies and pumpkin and the second one is for pastry triangles filled with pumpkin cream.

Anchovies served on pumpkin slices

The recipe is taken from Cretan Gastronomy and it belongs to Yiannis Apostolakis the thoughtful chef of Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania. However, I changed some things.

1 / 2 k. fresh anchovies, bone and head removed
Juice of 1 – 1 ½ medium lemons.
1 tbsp vinegar
Sea salt
Black pepper
Virgin olive oil
300 gr. pumpkin cut in slices

Place the anchovies in a stainless pan, pour the lemon juice over them, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Drain and discard the liquid.

Lay the slices of pumpkin in a lightly oiled roasting tin, pour over a light oil, grind over sea salt and black pepper and roast until they are soft and tender.

Lay the anchovies in another oiled roasting tin, grind over sea salt and roast until they are ready.

Serve them over a small bed of pumpkin slices, drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.

Pastry triangles filled with pumpkin cream 

The second recipe is inspired by the pumpkin bougatsa of Demetra Lambros.

My house is near a pastry shop that makes not fantastic desserts, however its trigona Panoramatos are remarkable. These triangle – shaped* pastries are filled with a delicate creamy custard. Moreover, the pastry shells are  also sold as empty ‘pockets’ . The only thing we have to do is fill them with home-made custard cream. So, I thought it would be a good idea to fill them with a pumpkin cream.
The trigona filled with pumpkin cream were beyond delicious!!

Empty trigona

7 triangles (pick up the recipe here)
3 1/2 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
7-8 tbsp corn starch (may need more or less it depends on how ‘wet’ the puree is)
I used somewhat less than 1 / 2 cup of sugar (it depends on how sweet the trigona are)
a vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 roasted almonds for each trigono.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out its pulp. Put 1 cup of milk, the vanilla pulp and the vanilla bean in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Cook until mixture begins to steam.

Put pumpkin puree and 1 cup of milk in another sauce pan over medium – low heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to steam. Remove from the heat and leave aside. When cool put it into a blender and blend until very smooth.

In a bowl blend corn starch, sugar and 1 cup of milk. There should be no lumps. Remove bean pod from the milk. Add pumpkin puree, cornstarch mixture, cinnamon stick and remaining milk to the pot. Cook stirring.

Once it begins to thicken reduce heat to very low and transfer a part of the cream to a bowl. You will use it as a sauce.
Cook, stirring constantly, the remaining cream until thicken. Remove from fire. Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Cool.
Use a pastry bag to fill the trigona. Place three almonds in each trigono’s ‘mouth’.

Serve the pumpkin trigona with pumpkin sauce.

Pumpkin bougatsa and pumpkin galaktoboureko.


* Trigono (sing.) = triangle
** A pie which don’t have crust.


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2 thoughts on “PUMPKIN RECIPES with a twist

  1. Savannah

    Those pastry cream triangles look amaaaaaaazing.Also, I'm so excited to see how you're meshing academia with a recipe blog. So many sites cover one or the other, and it makes sense to read about them together.

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