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How to Cook Pumpkin Leaves

By Paula Quinene

Pumpkin leaves are quite nutritious, containing iron, protein, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. The leaves are picked from the tips, which attach the leaves to the vine; otherwise the leaves would tear apart. The tips and leaves are sold together. Keep the pumpkin tips attached to the leaves, as they are edible, too. Pumpkin leaves may be available at your local ethnic, natural or whole foods store. Leaves may be used for salads, stir-fries, soups or as wraps for meat.

Preparation

Wash and clean 15 to 20 dark green pumpkin leaves in water, using a new, clean sponge.

Remove any tough tips attached, scraping off the hairy skin if the hairs bother you; the tips attach the leaves to the vines and are generally cooked with the leaves.

Stack five leaves together, then roll them up.

Make one or two cuts perpendicular to the length of the rolled leaves, cutting straight through the leaves and placing the cut leaves in a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining leaves and set aside.

Cooking

Preheat a large soup pot on medium heat.

Add 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil or canola oil and heat for two minutes.

Saute ½ medium yellow onion, chopped, in the oil for every 15 to 20 leaves you cook.

Add 1 clove of minced garlic to the pot and sauté for one minute.

Place the pumpkin leaves in the pot and cook till slightly wilted.

Sprinkle a ½ tsp. of salt, ¼ tsp. of ground black pepper, 1 tsp. of freshly grated ginger and 2 tsp. of fresh lemon juice over the pumpkin leaves.

Cook till the leaves and tips are completely soft then remove from the heat, or turn the heat to very low if you plan to add coconut milk.

Pour in just enough hot water to barely cover the leaves.

Add 1 can of thick coconut milk, then heat until the leaves are soft.

Taste the liquid in the pot, adding more salt, black pepper and lemon juice as needed.

Tips

After cleaning and chopping pumpkin leaves, you may add them to your coconut milk–based soups during the last few minutes of cooking.

Warnings

Do not raise the heat of your dish once you add the coconut milk. The oil will separate, and your pumpkin leaves will taste oily.

Don't use a sponge that has been used to clean surfaces like countertops, to avoid transferring dirt or chemicals onto the pumpkin leaves.

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