Pumpkin leaves, though uncommon in Western cooking, are an important ingredient in south Asian and rural African recipes. Adding pumpkin greens to your diet is a great way to use all the parts of a plant and to get more Vitamin A, iron and potassium. You can use pumpkin leaves in many different recipes in place of other greens, such as collards, or try one of these recipes with pumpkin leaves.
This Zambian dish is best with young pumpkin leaves. You'll need 2 pounds of pumpkin leaves, washed, dried, deveined and chopped. Boil them in 2 cups water for 5 minutes. Add one chopped onion and one chopped tomato; simmer 5 more minutes.
Process 1 1/2 cups peanuts in a food processor until coarsely ground. (Alternatively, use 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter.) Add to the pot and cook another 15 minutes, stirring frequently. If the pumpkin leaves too dry, add more water. When the pumpkin leaves are done cooking, drain excess water and stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon salt.
This Tanzanian dish combines pumpkin leaves with a creamy sauce of peanuts and coconut. Begin by washing, drying and shredding 1 pound of pumpkin leaves. Sautee the pumpkin leaves in 2 tablespoons butter, along with a pinch of salt, until tender. Add a chopped onion and one or two chopped red chiles; continue cooking until the onion is soft.
In a blender, puree 1/2 cup peanuts with 1 cup coconut cream. (Don't confuse coconut cream with coconut milk; it's thicker and has more coconut flavor.) Add the sauce to the pumpkin leaves and simmer until thick. Serve over potatoes or rice.
Vada are Indian fritters often made with lentils and greens. Start by soaking 1 tablespoon toor dal (split yellow lentils) and 1 tablespoon white rice in water for 30 minutes. Grind 1/2 cup fresh or frozen coconut, four red chiles and 1/4 teaspoon tamarind extract into a paste using a food processor. Drain the lentils and rice, grind them to a paste, and add to the coconut with a pinch of salt. Stir in 1/2 cup washed, dried and chopped pumpkin leaves.
Make the mixture into small balls, and then flatten them into fritters. Fry in a small amount of vegetable oil until brown.