So what is a niche pumpkin?
It's yellow and orange and covered in knobbly worts. When I got it almost 2 months ago, it was much greener - half of it was a dark green speckled with yellow worts. It was quite pretty and very mysterious so I let it decorate the table for a couple of months, but I assumed the absense of the green meant it was time to cook this sucker.
Before starting out, I had been told only two things about the niche pumpkin:
1. It is a squash/pumpkin hybrid.
2. The more worts it has, the sweeter it is.
I observed a few more:
1. It's heavy.
2. It has a hard rind.
3. It's weird looking, but I think it's kind of cute anyway.
I made several assumptions:
1. It will be delicious.
2. It will be the consistency of a pumpkin, butternut, or acorn squash.
3. It will be sweet since it has lots of worts.
4. It will take at least 2 hours to cook.
With only that to go on, I turned my oven to 350 degrees, sliced about a dozen vent holes in the gourd, put it in a casserole dish and stuck it in the oven. After about an hour, it was much more tender than I expected. Assumption #4 turned out wrong, it took just under an hour and a half until I deemed it ready to come out of the oven.
I left it on the counter to cool for a couple of hours. It took longer to cool than it did to cook! And I didn't even let it cool completely. I was very inpatient and spent most of that time fidgeting around my apartment, doing a bit of cleaning, and repeatedly coming back to poke the pumpkin to test it's temperature.
I even cut the top off to speed the cooling process:
I was excited to cut it open. I was imagining loaves of pumpkin bread for the freezer, mashed squash with butter and pepper, maybe even some muffins or a coffee cake or a dessert of some sort. Perhaps a pie!
But when I finally got to hack it open I was a bit surprised:
It looked and tasted like a spaghetti squash!! Fibrous, stringy, like spaghetti, sweet, but not sugary just not savory...
At first, I was disappointed. So much for that pumpkin biscotti recipe I've been working on. But then I remembered that the spaghetti squash is one of my all-time favorite vegetables! I immediately made a bowl with butter, salt, pepper, and a little grated cheese, just like Mom used to serve it.
I've got to reevaluate my menu planning...but I have a feeling there's going to be some deliciousness coming from this niche pumpkin.