Ask Chef Emily: Cheese Pumpkin Edition

Long Island cheese pumpkin at Serene Green farm stand.

Long Island cheese pumpkin at Serene Green farm stand.

Dear Chef Emily, I am in love with the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. Do you have any recipes that aren’t for pie? Thanks! –Evan, Bridgehampton

So named because of its color and gently ridged, flattened shape resembling a wheel of cheese, this pumpkin is one of the oldest squash cultivars grown in the United States. It is well suited to lots of techniques (like pie) and can also be roasted, steamed, stewed—even pickled! The entire thing is edible, save for the stem, so save the seeds, free them from their webbing and dry roast in a nice hot oven.

I am partial to two recipes that I make regularly, both written by professional friends of mine that I think everyone should add to their cooking repertoire. First, Dorie Greenspan’s Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good. As the title suggests, this dish is deliciously decadent with bacon, cheese, cream, and bread and is a fabulous make-ahead option for holiday gatherings. I serve it every year at my New Year’s Day open house. Making it a few days ahead of time means I have something rich and filling that just needs to be popped into the oven in the morning to heat up. Because you’ll be using a cheese pumpkin, be sure to weigh it and then scale up the filling recipe accordingly.

The second is Marge Perry’s Kabocha Coconut Curry, for which cheese pumpkin would be a fine understudy. The dish is vegetarian and tropical, rich yet healthful and comforting. I have committed it to memory and rely heavily on it all fall, winter and spring and the best part? My son loves it! Owing to the bright color, sweet flavor and ‘mommy, we are eating a pumpkin?!’ conversation, I can pack my kid full of delicious fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based fats.

Finally, for something simple to whirl together and drink from a gently steaming mug while digging into your new favorite Dublin Murder Squad novel, I offer you a simple soup:

Simple Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4

2 tablespoons cooking oil, whatever you have on the counter is fine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
kosher salt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 stems of thyme
4 cups diced pumpkin
1 cup diced potato
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, or water
Crunchy sea salt (like Maldon) and freshly ground pepper

  1. Heat the oil a large heavy-bottomed pot big enough to hold all the ingredients until it begins to shimmer.
  2. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until it starts to become tender. Add the curry powder, garlic and thyme stems (whole is fine). Cook until fragrant, about a minute or two.
  3. Add the pumpkin and potato. Cook 2 minutes more, then add the stock and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer until the pumpkin and potato are tender, about 20 minutes, depending on how small you cut them.
  4. Remove the thyme stems.
  5. Next, purée the soup. Use either an immersion blender (easiest) or a regular blender (work in batches and be careful not to burn yourself) to make the soup smooth. This can also be done by hand using a potato masher or a food mill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.