Portuguese Pumpkin / Gourd Jam

 Pumpkin jam and cheese
All over Portugal we saw fields of enormous pumpkins and pumpkins stacked like walls. We have never had pumpkin soup in Portugal, but you often find pumpkin/gourd jam in cakes or served with cheese. We had some at a restaurant in Chaves (see previous post) which was absolutely deeelicious.

The particular variety that gets used a lot in Portugal is called “chila” or “gila” and according to clever Wikipedia, it is not so much a pumpkin as a gourd/squash. Apparently it is known by many different names: fig leaf gourd, black-seed squash, pie melon, to name a few. Another suitable replacement is spaghetti squash.

The Portuguese like their jam sweet, but I prefer it a lot less sweet. Some of the desserts in Portugal, for instance, Pastel de chila com amendoa, a pastry tart with chila jam and almonds, will give you a sugar shock that will see you bouncing around the room! Hey, not necessarily a bad thing!

I have found a couple of recipes for you to try if you’d like to make the jam yourselves, and/or make some tasty, if a little sweet, Portuguese pastries:

Personally, I think Pumpkin jam tastes best with cheese and in particular a nice fresh goats cheese like the one we had in the restaurant in Chaves, in the photo above. The sweetness of the jam worked really well with the slightly salty cheese. So deeevine!

I posted a recipe by my friend Anja last year so here is the link again if you would like to make her Almond and Pumpkin (Chila) Jam cake. http://www.acookonthefunnyside.com/content/chila-cake-bolo-de-chila

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