Red Curry, Blue Hungarian and the Turk’s Turban

You may have guessed that you’d be seeing pumpkins on the blog this week, with Halloween real soon and my affinity for markets, which are just overflowing with gorgeous pumpkins this month. Around this time last year, I was baking my pumpkin chocolate chip cake, a recipe I make all year long, thanks to my trusty cans of Libby purée from the States.  But from now on, I’m going can-free. Jack McNulty (gastronomic encyclopedia) and his wife Silvia Gautschi McNulty of Laughing Lemon Food & Wine, give fun, educational and delicious cooking classes here in Zürich (Oerlikon).  I signed up as soon as I could for the October pumpkin class (recipes below).  One of the few occasions Jack and Silvia color-coordinate their outfits!

Cookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, Switzerland

I have always loved cooking and baking with squash of all kinds (pumpkin and squash can be used interchangeably).  There are endless varieties, with fabulous colors, funny shapes and all different sizes.  Yet I tend to stick to my basic recipe – roasted in the oven with butter, maple syrup and sea salt.  It’s really simple and really delicious.  But after my Cooking with Pumpkins class, it looks like I’ll be straying from that norm.

Cookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCooking with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, Switzerland

Quickly trying to jot down all the great information Jack was sharing, I have pages and pages of notes about the four categories of squash, fun facts including the origin of the Jack-o-Lantern, the subtle or sometimes flagrant differences in flavor and texture of squash varieties, as well as notes on the fine art of making risotto. All this from a man who despised pumpkin and never ate it as a child!  I suppose that’s what commercial pumpkin pie mixes and their distinctive aromas will do to you!  Thankfully (for us), he discovered fresh pumpkins in Northern Italy and has been passionate about them ever since.  On the class menu: toasted pumpkin seeds and Kabocha fries, pumpkin purée on homemade ginger snaps with pomegranate molasses, butternut squash and ginger soup with pumpkin oil, baked spaghetti squash with tomato walnut tapenade, butternut squash risotto with Parmesan and Pecorino and for dessert, pumpkin pie.

Cookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, Switzerland

Here are my Top 10 highlights from Cooking with Pumpkins (fun facts, tips, tastes and more):

1. There is a growing popularity of pumpkins here in Switzerland.  For just 8 weeks between September and November, they are abundant and easy to stock up on at local farms.  I have Jack and Silvia’s precious address noted down for next year’s pumpkin festival in Berg am Irchel (the farm has 150 pumpkin varieties!).  I already can’t wait.

2. The roll call of squash names is as fun as their crazy looks: Bambino Gigante, Big Max, Blue Hungarian, Red Curry, Muscade de Provence, Sweet Dumpling, Spaghetti Squash, Acorn, Butternut and last but certainly not least, Turk’s Turban.  What’s your favorite squash name?

3. Don’t throw anything away.  The skin, the seeds and any trimmings – toss it all in a pot to make a deliciously flavorful broth.  Then use that broth to cook with, in a risotto for example.

4. Things to look for when buying squash: an intact stem at least 1-2cm long (otherwise it will decay faster), no green veins on a butternut (sign that it is unripe), no blemishes and it should be heavy for its size.

5. Any guess as to how Spaghetti Squash got its name?  Developed in Japan, the squash was a big flop when introduced in the US in the 1930’s.  It looked like a melon, but had no aroma and people didn’t understand what to do with it.  A quick name change (thanks to a marketing genius) to Spaghetti Squash, and voila – instant popularity! (Once the squash is cooked, a fork will remove the flesh in strings, looking just like spaghetti!)

6. My favorite dish of the evening: “Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese” = baked spaghetti squash with a tomato walnut tapenade.  So creative, fun and divine. (See below for the recipe.)

7. Try any squash raw – it’s surprisingly good.  I’ll be cutting up little cubes to add to salads for sure.  The Kabocha tasted almost like a cucumber, which makes sense, since they are both members of the gourd family.

8. In a rush, but really want to have pumpkin purée (not out of a can)?  Instead of an hour in the oven, how about 8 minutes on the stovetop?  Another technique I’ll be adding to my repertoire. Simply put chopped pumpkin in a pot with salt and a touch of water, cover and cook over medium heat for less than 10 minutes. Drain and then mash.

9. A new ingredient I learned about was pumpkin oil.  With a very dark green color, it almost resembles a vinegar rather than an oil.  If you’re going to buy a bottle (to use as flavoring, not to cook with), make sure it’s from Austria. Jack let us know that 90% of the world’s best pumpkin oil is from Austria.  It’s high in Vitamin E, but can leave mean stains!

10. And last but not least, what to do with that pumpkin oil, other than drizzling over salads and soups?  Drizzle over vanilla ice cream!  A must try for me.  I’ll be doing just that and perhaps using Jack’s recipe for a delicate pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving this year.

Thanks to Jack & Silvia, and especially for letting me share sweet and savory recipes with my readers below!

Let me know what your favorite pumpkin/squash variety is and how you like to cook or bake with it.  Have a happy Halloween, and remember that all those pumpkins and gourds aren’t only for decoration and/or carving – they’re delicious too!

Cookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, SwitzerlandCookin with Pumpkins, Laughing Lemon, Zürich, Switzerland

Recipes from Jack McNulty of Laughing Lemon Food & Wine


Pumpkin Pie
makes one 25cm tart

Pie crust:
240 grams flour
64 grams powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
180 grams very cold butter, cut into cubes

Pumpkin filling:
500 grams pumpkin puree (use butternut or orange knirps)
25 grams all purpose flour
1.5 tsp cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1.5 tsp salt
180 grams brown sugar
2 eggs
40 grams corn syrup
4 dl (1 3/4 cup) milk

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Sift the flour, sugar and salt together. Beat together the egg and egg yolk. Work the butter into the flour with fingers until the mixture is coarse. Add the egg mixture to the flour and briefly mix together until the dough holds together. Form into a disk, then refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Roll the dough out until it is several centimeters larger than the pan. Carefully place the dough into the pan, making sure there is no air between the pan and the dough.

Make the filling: Place the pumpkin in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or use a hand blender). Sift together the flour, spices and salt. Add the flour mixture and sugar to the pumpkin. Mix at second speed until smooth and well blended. Add the eggs and mix in, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn the machine to low speed. Gradually pour in the corn syrup, then the milk. Mix until blended. Let the filling stand for 30-60 minutes.

Stir the filling. Fill the pie shell, then bake at 220 degrees Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit), no fan, for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 170 degrees Celsius (340 degrees Fahrenheit) and bake until set, about 30 more minutes.


Baked Spaghetti Squash & Tomato Walnut Tapenade
makes about 6-8 servings

1 to 1.5 kg spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
4 Tbl. butter or olive oil
salt, pepper, freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. spicy paprika
olive oil
1 Tbl. honey

Bake the lightly salted squash halves in a 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven in a baking dish with enough water to come to 1/4 inch up the sides of the squash. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and bake until it is soft when poked with a knife (about 45-60 minutes). When the squash is cooked, spoon out and discard the seeds, and then scrape out the pulp with a fork, pulling the strands lengthwise. You should end up with a bowl of stringy “spaghetti.”

To make the tapenade, begin by reconstituting the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 30 minutes. Remove, drain and dry well. Combine all of the ingredients, except the honey, in a food processor and pulse until a thick paste is formed. Remove the tapenade to a clean bowl and fold in the honey. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

22 Responses to “Red Curry, Blue Hungarian and the Turk’s Turban”

  1. VeggieGirl says:

    Fabulous recipe and squash varieties!

  2. Sam says:

    Pumpkin pie with vanila icecream! Yummm!
    Ok now off to eat my most boring dinner… brocoli and tomato sauce.
    Someone needs to go food shopping!


  3. Lani says:

    I don’t really like pumpkin but I do like the taste of squash! Everything photographed looks so delicious I might just change my mind. My favorite name is turk’s turban. I just love the shape and color, too. Thank you for educating me in pumpkin and squash.

  4. Tweets that mention Red Curry, Blue Hungarian and the Turk?s Turban | MyKugelhopf -- says:

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  5. kelleyn says:

    Yum! I have a friend who goes to his classes occcationally. He always makes such wonderfully fresh and interesting menus. Whatever happened to Portugal. Was the chestnut post going to be the only post?

  6. Rosa says:

    Great cooking classes!

    That pie looks fantastic! I really love that season…



  7. Amanda says:

    Love it all! I have only in the last few years started to eat pumpkin (other than store-bought pie at Thanksgiving), so I am thrilled you posted so many great ideas! Thanks for all the tips (especially the one about not throwing anything out – I need to not be so wasteful) and great recipes. I can’t wait to try them out. Isaiah’s favorite pumpkin treat? Pumpkin pancakes!

  8. Mom says:

    When you too were little I tried very hard to get you to eat spaghetti squash but the answer was absolutely no. Look at you now!!!! Can’t wait to hear how you use the recipes from this fabulous cooking class.

  9. Kerrin says:

    Sam, pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream works for me too, yum! Broccoli and tomato sauce for dinner – yes please do go food shopping – and be sure to buy squash 🙂

    Lani, thanks! Turk’s Turban certainly is a crazy name for a pumpkin, such fun! Here’s a great photo of one and some other recipe ideas:

    kelleyn, I can’t believe it’s been over a year that I have been wanting to take one of Jack’s classes. The pasta one is real popular, as are Silvia’s wine classes too. Would have been funny if your friend was there with me the other night, right?! As for Portugal, sorry for the tease, definitely not only 1 post. I have SO many travels and stories to share, just not enough hours in the day! It will all come though – Portugal and Denmark too, Finland, New York City, Paris, Berlin…!

    Rosa, me too, I love this season – the colors, the foods, the markets – and especially when it’s so beautiful and mild out right now too! In Geneva as well?

    Amanda, I can’t wait to hear about your pumpkin adventures, definitely let us know what you make! And Isaiah and I definitely have similar tastes – again another favorite of mine, pumpkin pancakes. I make them all the time, sooooo good!

    Mom, really?! I don’t remember that! haha! Well for some kids that could be cool I guess – but on the other hand, seeing a huge melon-like food whose flesh turns into strings, that could be weird too, right?! How my eating habits have changed…! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Mom. Me and Jack both – a childhood aversion, to an adult passion!

  10. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Seems like you were a picky eater as a child, no? Too funny. Me, I ate EVERYTHING! This looks like a fantastic cooking class, and especially so as I adore pumpkin. I can’t get that Libby’s puree here – but remember it well – so don’t make pumpkin pie. But I will have to try this recipe. It looks delicious. The right proportion of pastry and filling – don’t like my pastry too skimpy!

  11. Jack says:

    Thanks for the glowing comments and review Kerrin…It is still strange for me when I think I am actually conducting a class on cooking with pumpkins – never thought I would go there while growing up in the US. It was truly our pleasure to have you grace our class with your enthusiasm…looking forward to developing even more pumpkin ideas.

    For your readers who may want to try out some recipes…A pdf version of our Cooking with Pumpkins booklet can be downloaded for free at this link:

  12. jen laceda says:

    Pumpkin pie…yummmmm…Happy Halloween, Kerrin. Is Halloween celebrated in Switzerland as much as we do here in North America? I can’t wait to eat all the nasty, commercial chocolates….hahaha. I do love Twix though. And I love buying those grotesquely twisted pumpkins for decoration…are they genetic freaks of nature or do farmers manipulate these pumpkims? They’re just so odd…have you seen them?

  13. Leigh says:

    I’ve never made homemade pumpkin pie. I think I should try this recipe this year. We went to London for 6 weeks and it was great. Back in San Fran now. Still not sure where we’ll be long-term. Hope you’ve been doing well!

  14. jkiel says:

    I’ve never thought of making a broth from the trimmings – any pumpkin seeds get toasted for a little snack (sometimes with salt, sometimes not). I’ll have to try that, thanks!

  15. Kerrin says:

    Julia… me? A picky eater as a kid? Ok, maybe. Fine, definitely. More picky than I am now, that’s for sure ! You’ve never made pumpkin pie ? Forget the cans. Go for it, no skimpy pastry crust here, you’ll love it !

    Jack, thanks for the wonderful comment too ! Funny how our tastes evolve over the years, right. And wow, a link for the whole pumpkin booklet – that’s fantastic. On behalf of all of my readers – thank you ! Can’t wait to hear more of your pumpkin ideas.

    Jen, happy Halloween to you too ! It’s definitely not a holiday celebrated here like we did back in the US. Where in September already, every store was loaded with candy and orange this and orange that. You really have to search for any sort of pumpkin/orange/ghost decoration anywhere here, I haven’t seen one. I miss seeing trick or treaters and houses with spooky decorations. What are you doing for the holiday?

    …And me too, I love those twisted pumpkins – the weirder, the more fun. I think they simply grow that way, as bizarre as that sounds. I never cooked with those though – how on earth would you cut and peel them ?! 😉

    Leigh, great to hear from you, back in SF. Glad you enjoyed London, and good luck with the final decision of where you’ll go. In the meantime, make some homemade pumpkin pie, haha!

    jkiel, I never did the broth thing either, but I certainly will from now on. The pumpkin seeds we tasted were tossed with olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt. You could really do any mix of spices. Great snack idea for sure.

  16. katy says:

    Hi kerrin,

    Whew. i’ve opened up this page 3 times to leave a comment but only now am I finally free enough from distraction to write. I love this post! You’ve had some wonderful culinary experiences – I’m a bit jealous. Would love to take some classes here in Lux, but have yet to figure out how. I would have *loved* this class as squash is my fav fall vegetable. I haven’t had great success cooking it myself, but my mom and dad have some great squash dishes.

    My dad makes butternut squash soup and serves it with blue cheese crumbles and roasted walnuts. This was what we used to eat on Christmas eve (after my sis turned vegetarian on us 🙂 )

    Spaghetti squash is near and dear to my heart. I’d forgotten about it until I read your post. I adore the way my mom prepares it – she simply tosses it with a bit of butter, seasons with salt and plenty of pepper and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It is the best stuff in the world!

    My aunt was just visiting and somehow we got on the topic of Thanksgiving food. Each year she makes pumpkin puree just as you’ve described. She doesn’t even cut the rind (skin?) off. She just hacks up her jack-o-lantern into pieces, sticks it in boiling water, scrapes off the pulp and freezes in pie size containers. I’ve always been intimated by using a real pumpkin instead of a can. But that sounds so easy I’ll have to give it a try. She doesn’t even put the pulp through a food mill.

    As for pumpkin pie – my childhood neighbor always uses 1/2 milk and 1/2 egg nog in her pumpkin pie. It adds such a nice flavor.

    Hmmmm. Now I’m terribly hungry for squash. I love Danish, roasted in the oven, topped with a bit of butter and S & P. That’s it.

    Ah, fall. Is it not the best eating season EVER??

  17. Uncle Beefy says:

    What an eye-opener, Kerrin! Admittedly, I tend to stick to the baked goods dept. with pumpkin. But I’m naturally geared toward sweet things… like you! I know, suck up. 😉 But all these hints and tips will have to see me being a bit more experimental. The Squash with Tomato/Walnut Tapenade sounds AMAZING! 🙂

  18. Kerrin says:

    katy, thank you so so much for your fabulous comment, chock-full of squash ideas and inspiration. Your entire family has some fantastic recipes – looks like cooking with pumpkins is in your genes, you have to give it a try ! 😉 And pumpkin pie with egg nog, what a brilliant idea, how perfect for the holidays ! To answer your question at the end, is fall not the best eating season ever – I might just have to agree !! If I hear about any cooking classes or such in Luxembourg, I’ll let you know for sure.

    Uncle Beefy, save the sweets for you and me ! It is in fact a rare occasion that I post a SAVORY recipe on this blog, haha! But these tips and that spaghetti squash recipe were just too good to pass up. Let me know if you try it !

  19. Berenice says:

    Hi Kerrin
    Was really nice to meet you and share some pumpkin experience.
    I am still trying to find a really nice pumpkin for a pie or a squash.
    Yesterday – Halloween – some even came as a pumpkin knocking on our door – Trick or Treat!
    Maybe we see each other again – for the next food adventure!

  20. Duncalator says:

    Stunning photos, great info. I have been using pumpkin oil for years, on salads, in risottos and pasta sauces, and in marinades for meat, chicken and fish, but now I plan to try it on ice cream.

  21. Maureen says:

    Looks wonderful but do you have any RAW recipes for turks turban squash?

  22. Kerrin says:

    Hi Maureen. While I don’t have any raw recipes to share, the person you want to ask is Jack of Laughing Lemon. Drop him an email; I’m sure he’ll be happy to share: Happy cooking !

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