Towards the end of summer, many fields in the Bekaa Valley can be seen sprinkled with orange dots, the Cucurbita
Pepo, commonly known as pumpkin, squash and winter squash, are a true joy to the eye. Pumpkins were introduced
to Europe after Columbus’s discovery of America and from there spread to North Africa and the Middle East.
In Lebanon, pumpkins are usually planted towards the end of April in order to be harvested starting mid-summer until fall. This plant requires warm weather and lots of water during its cultivation. Since it produces fruit over a span of 3-2 months, it is harvested several times during the season. In the traditional Lebanese diet, both seeds and flesh are consumed and have several nutritional benefits. It is recommended to buy organic pumpkins as soil contaminants tend to be highly absorbed. Pumpkin pulp is one of the main sources of antioxidants such as carotenoids; it is also an important source of fiber, Vitamins A, C and B complex. The vegetable can be prepared
both savory, as soup and kebbeh, and sweet as dessert and jams, flavored with cloves, orange peel and musk and mixed with nuts such as almonds and pine nuts. Pumpkin seeds are rich in manganese, phosphorus, copper and magnesium as well as zinc. When roasted the seeds are a healthy snack, best eaten unsalted to avoid health problems like high blood pressure. Jazarieh, a traditional sweet consumed during the month of Ramadan, is made from pumpkin and sold in Arabic sweet shops, mainly in Saida and Tripoli, two Lebanese cities renowned for their desserts.
Check out the full article in Taste&Flavors magazine.