Stacked in seasonal displays at Roger's Produce and local grocery stores, fall pumpkins are hard to miss. And while you might see them merely as Jack' O'Lanterns or as a pumpkin pie ingredient, I see more. Pumpkin has potential.
Pumpkin is perfect for recipes ranging from soup to breads as well as cooked into candy to slow-roasted around a pot roast. The fact is, few vegetables offer as many culinary options as pumpkins. The only trick is knowing how to prepare the pulp.
To cook a fresh pumpkin cut them in half (larger pumpkins cut into pieces), then, scrape out the seeds and stringy fibers. Brush cut side with oil and place cut side down in a shallow baking dish. Pour about 1/2 inch water in the baking pan and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes, or until pumpkin is fork tender. Remove from the oven and cool. Scrape the pumpkin pulp from the shell, place in a bowl and mash or puree using a hand blender.
Another consideration to include pumpkin in recipes is that it's good for you, loaded with vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, E and K along with antioxidant carotenoids, and beta-carotenes. It’s a good source of fiber and minerals, including magnesium, potassium and iron. Even its seeds have value. Pumpkin seeds, which are great toasted and tossed into a salad, seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect, and may even help protect against prostate cancer and osteoporosis.
Whether you’re cooking a fresh pumpkin or opening a can of puree, pumpkin’s popularity has spawned a variety of seasonal recipes from pie to soup, to cheesecake and ravioli.
Celebrate the harvest season beyond pumpkin pie. Make warming soup or a few gifts from your kitchen featuring fall’s signature vegetable.
See related story for recipes: