3 Quick Recipes for Zimbabwean Pumpkin & Squash


Everywhere I go, I see the rust, orange, and gold of pumpkins and squashes. Some smile from my neighbors’ front stoops. Some have been tagged for this year’s Thanksgiving pie or pumpkin pancakes (Hello, Russia!). Even Pinterest looks like a digital pumpkin patch of late.

All this for good reason. These beautiful gourds are autumn. They represent breathless hikes to pick out the biggest, the gnarliest, the cutest in the bunch.

But for all that, I can only look at so many pumpkin recipes before my eyes glaze over.

Until Zimbabwe.

Sunrise Matobo National Park. Photo by Macvivo.

Sunrise Matobo National Park. Photo by Macvivo.

In this southern African country, gourds are served up in fun and fresh ways. In my wildest dreams I never considered putting peanut butter with butternut squash. But my goodness… it works!

Here are three recipes from Zimbabwe to add interest to your global fall fest.

1. Roasted Acorn Squash with Cheddar & Corn


Oh man, oh man, oh man. Seriously.

I’d be proud to call this lunch any time of day. This recipe was originally made with a “gem” squash in Zimbabwe, which I can’t obtain in Oklahoma. I found acorn squash to be a perfect substitute, although you could do this with pumpkin or butternut squash, too.

This will be made often in my home. And in large quantities.  Again, thank you, Zimbabwe.

Serves 2-3 (Adapted from Eternal Zest)


1 small acorn squash
2/3 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup grated cheese, like cheddar or mozarella


Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, cut an acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice a bit off the round side of the squash halves, so they will stand up straight on the baking sheet.


Brush liberally with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spoon in 1/4-1/3 cup of frozen corn per side (no need to thaw the corn) and top with shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup per half).


Roast until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife and the cheese is bubbling and browned. Cooking times will vary, but a small squash may be done in 45 minutes, whereas a large one may take an hour.


I found the cheese browned perfectly after about 50 minutes. If the cheese starts to brown too much for your taste, simply cover the squash loosely with foil.

Eat hot with great Zimbabwean gusto.




2. Pumpkin with Cinnamon


Roast or steam some pumpkin (or any other gourd). Sprinkle with cinnamon and salt. Voila!

Granted, this one isn’t so unusual, but it’s neat to see Zimbabweans enjoy their pumpkin with cinnamon, too!

Small world. Smiling world.


3. Peanut Butter & Butternut Mash (Nhopi)


I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t tasted it: the combination of butternut squash and peanut butter is ridiculously good.  And vegan! The flavor is like a ghost of peanut butter, with a cheery sprinkling of salt, on the sweet squash. It’s the perfect sweet/salty combo. Thank you Zimbabwe!

Serves 2-4 (Adapted from Fudu Now)


1 butternut squash
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, or to taste (natural preferred)
warm water, to thin as needed (optional)
salt or sugar

Garnish: crushed peanuts, as desired



Peel, cube and steam butternut squash for about 30 minutes. Be sure to cook it until extremely tender, to ensure a smooth mash (take it from me, if you rush the cooking process, you can end up with lumpy squash).

Next, mash the peanut butter into the squash directly with a little salt or sugar.

OR, if your squash seems dry, whisk the peanut butter with a couple of Tbsp water until a smooth sauce is formed. (Personally, I prefer no added water, since that dilutes the flavors).


Either way, mash the butternut squash with peanut butter and season with salt or sugar, as desired.

To get a silky smooth texture, use an immersion blender.

Top with crushed peanuts.

Love, love, love.

After this, I think Zimbabwe just might have a place at my Thanksgiving table….

Are you planning on sharing any global dishes this Thanksgiving?

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  1. aunty eileen says:

    oh man, oh man.. 1. Roasted Acorn Squash with Cheddar & Corn recipe looks to be a treasure of a recipe. I think I want to try it just like you made it. And, then I think I want to play with it and maybe put a bit less corn and add some mashed potato or small cubes of potato. maybe could add a few cubes of ham or throw in some pieces of fish… I dunno. But, what I do know for sure: I want some right now. Looks great!

    • aunty eileen says:

      Sasha: does Acorn squash seem to need less or more salt than butternut squash? I have never cooked Acorn squash… always butternut.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Salt as you would butternut. It’s more of a savory squash…so it tastes very good with salt and pepper.

  2. Are these the only recipes this week or will there be more?

  3. oh man, oh man! These make my mouth water! nice choices!!

  4. …definitely doing the Acorn for Thanksgiving….

  5. Thought you would enjoy the story of Georgia’s own ‘African squash’ – a great favorite at Atlanta’s local organic farmers markets.

    “…“African” squash is a uniquely Georgia product with its roots in Zaire and its original Georgia connection at Koinonia Farm in Americus. Ann Brewer, who manages the chef demos for the Morningside Farmers Market, was one of the original founders of Georgia Grown, a farmer-owned cooperative begun in the early 1990s.

    Brewer told me Georgia Grown member Bobby Burns, once the gardener for Koinonia Farm, had been with the Peace Corps working in Zaire. When he came back to the States, he brought seed of a squash he had grown in Africa, a squash with a high sugar content that produces fruit of all shapes and sizes. Through Georgia Grown, the seed was made available to local farmers.

    Pete Cimino and his son Ansley Watson have been growing African squash ever since at Cimino Farm five miles south of Reynolds. Cimino says it’s a Kubota-type squash of which there are hundreds of varieties. This one seems particularly suited to our growing conditions in Georgia.

    “African squash is fairly drought-resistant and makes a huge vine. If you let it go, it could easily grow to 20 or 30 feet,” Cimino told me. They’ve found that even if the vines pick up a fungus, the plant will recover and still bear a full crop.

    Unlike hybrid seed developed to produce a consistent size and shape of squash, the African squash grown here is open pollinated and develops all sizes and shapes of fruit. “We make sure to plant it away from melons or butternut squash [so it won’t pick up their characteristics]. Each year, we pick out the best fruits and save their seeds for the next year’s crop,” he said. … “It’s a really great tasting squash, especially if you store it for a while. It just gets sweeter and sweeter.”

  6. aunty eileen says:

    Thank you CRF. Interesting.


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