Pumpkin leaves – known locally in southern Nigeria as Ugwu – boast global acceptance. Anyone who desires to incorporate some African flavour in their kitchen should consider adding Ugwu to their meals. You can take it as a soup, make it a dessert or add it to salads.
Here, I simplify making them so you can do it quickly. Sit your pretty backside down as I guide you on how to get it right when cooking pumpkin leaves.
Ingredients needed to cook pumpkin leaves
Check below for the ingredients you need to cook the pumpkin leaves. However, they may vary from one cook to another:
- 30 to 50 pumpkin leaves
- Pepper and salt to taste
- One bulb of chopped onion
- 3 to 5 bulbs of diced tomatoes
- Two tablespoons of fresh cream (not mandatory)
- One tablespoon of cooking oil (palm oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil will do just fine)
The 30 to 50 pumpkin leaves will be adequate for 4 to 6 servings. Preparation takes about 10 minutes; cooking time requires about 15 minutes. So, the estimated time needed is 25 minutes.
Step by step guide on how to prepare and cook pumpkin leaves
Here are the steps to take to prepare and cook the leaves.
Pluck the leaves
Be careful when plucking the pumpkin leaves lest you destroy the plant. Pluck towards the buds but avoid touching or damaging the buds. Focus only on young leaves while at it. Don’t bother about this step if you buy yours.
Clean the leaves
It doesn’t matter if you got the leaves from the market or your kitchen garden; wash them well without chemicals or detergents. Running the leaves through clean tap water will remove dirt or anything lodged in them. If you do not have tap water, swishing them in a bowl of clean water will ensure you do not have sand in your soup.
Remove the stalks
The stalks can be chewy so remove them before proceeding. Hold the stem between your fingers and break it off. Removing the limb also removes the bark from the inner leaf.
Cut or dice leaves
Next, cut or dice the leaves in preparation for cooking.
The leaves are better diced than chopped, so they cook finely. Dice them into a clean bowl.
Cook the pumpkin leaves
Follow the steps below to cook the pumpkin leaves:
Boiling makes the vegetable soft and tender. Pour some water into a clean pot and bring to boil. Add salt to taste. When dissolved, put in the pumpkin leaves and simmer for 5 minutes or until soft. If the leaves are tough, you can add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda.
Drain off water
Remove the vegetables and drain off the water. To avoid getting burnt by the steam, add cold water before draining. Or use a sieve with a handle to transfer to a clean bowl. Rinse the boiled vegetables to remove any leftover baking soda.
- Place a pot on the stove. Pour the cooking oil into it and heat it.
- Pour the diced tomatoes into the hot oil and sauté the chopped onion.
- Mix them
- Next, add pepper and salt to taste. To prevent burning, add some water to it.
- Leave the mixture to heat up for a couple of minutes. Stir it and pour in the boiled pumpkin leaves.
- If you like, you can add fresh cream.
- Simmer for a minute, and it is ready! It’s time to serve and enjoy!
What are the health benefits of pumpkin leaves?
The leaves have many nutritional benefits:
- Rich in vitamins A, B2, C, E, and K. These vitamins make the skin radiant. They also promote the development of bones, teeth, and hair.
- Low in sodium and cholesterol, therefore, good for the heart. Pumpkin leaves can help prevent heart-related diseases like diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.
- Consuming them can prevent chronic diseases since they are rich in manganese, potassium, iron, and calcium.
- The dietary fibre content of pumpkin leaves is high. As a result, they enhance the function of the digestive system, boost immunity, prolong satiety, and reduce obesity.
- You can reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer, thanks to the high concentration of beta-carotene in them.
- They can protect your muscles and prevent asthma.
Pumpkin leaves are easy to cook, healthy and nutritious, and great for your diet. Try the recipe and tell us how you liked it in the comment section below.