Halloween is here and it’s time to get out your favorite carving knife and head out to the pumpkin patch to pick up a spooky gourd to hang on your front stoop. With all the hayrides and petting zoos and old-timey snacks, it’s easy to forget about how many tasty and nutrition-dense recipes we can make with the pumpkin.
You have a lot of choices in the pumpkin category. ‘Sweety pie’ is aptly named for its use in sweet pie recipes, and I have also used it for a mild curry pumpkin soup. ‘Butter’ is a mid-sized gourd with a creamier flesh, great for casseroles, stews or just baked and drizzled with a little good olive oil and some parmesan cheese. You may even encounter an heirloom variety like the ‘Cinderella’ pumpkin; these are great for grilling, roasting and mashing.
Roasting pumpkins is really easy. Simply remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half, then remove the pulp and seed matter (I like to use a large metal spoon for this job). Save your seeds — they are vitamin rich and tasty little treats (I’ll give you a great pumpkin seed recipe at the end of this article.)
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, place your pumpkin halves cut-side down on a sheet pan. Roast in your pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pumpkins have some give in their flesh. Allow the pumpkins to cool on your counter, then slip the skins off your roasted pumpkins, and you are ready to make a variety of dishes.
Roasted Pumpkin Walnut Pate
Yield: 1 quart
Great on toasted pita, as a dip for vegetables, or a spread for a turkey sandwich.
- 2 cups roasted pumpkin
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Process for several minutes, turn off the machine and scrape the sides of the bowl, process for several more minutes. Transfer the pate to a bowl or cold storage container. Enjoy. (This recipe freezes well; I use small size zip-lock freezer bags.)
Roasted Pumpkin Kibbeh
A great, hearty dish that could be eaten as an entrée with a green salad, or served as a side dish alongside some fresh greens and roasted lamb. Makes a 7 x 7 inch panful.
- 4 cups roasted pumpkin
- 1 cup bulgur wheat
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1-1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon toasted cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Blend the pumpkin with the bulgur wheat. Allow to rest covered on the counter while you prep the rest of the dish. In a sauté pan, over low heat, melt the onions and garlic. After about 20 minutes, add spices, stir well, then quickly add liquids to the pan and raise heat to high, stirring occasionally, to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid is gone from the pan. Cool this mixture. Once cool, layer the pumpkin-bulgur mixture, with the onion, garlic and spice mixture in your 7 x 7 baking dish. I always strive for six or seven thin layers; it always seems to bake up better in thinner layers.
Bake covered with aluminum foil in a pre-heated, 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake for 20 more minutes.
One-Pan Cinnamon Pumpkin Custard
Quick and easy and twice and tasty as regular custard.
Yield: 1 quart
- 2 cups roasted pumpkin, blended smooth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 egg whites
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar
- Zest and juice of one lemon
In a small sauce pan, add blended pumpkin, sugar, lemon product, cinnamon and butter. Bring to a boil, turn off heat. Allow to cool slightly, then add your egg yolks while whisking to prevent scrambling the egg proteins. Let this mixture cool on the counter while you whip the egg whites into firm peak meringue, and the cream into medium peak whipped cream. Fold the egg meringue into the pumpkin mixture in three equal batches, folding carefully to maintain aeration and texture, then add the whipped cream in three equal batches. Refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving — for best results, three hours refrigeration will produce a thicker finished product.
In my opinion, the seeds are the best, but lots of work goes into freeing them from their white outer shell. You can eat the outer shell, but it really offers only fiber and gives no flavor, so if you need a little more fiber in your diet feel free to just eat them whole. Otherwise, I recommend soaking the whole fresh seed in cool water for half an hour before roasting. This will help split the shell as they roast, making the prize inside much easier to obtain.
Roast in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven (not convection) for 6 minutes.
Shake the pan, moving the whole seeds around, then roast for 4 more minutes.
When the seeds are toasted, I pour them out on a cool, clean countertop and let them rest until they are cool to the touch. Peeling should be easy; just find the crack in the seed and pop out the pepita. Enjoy.