Oh Great Pumpkin
October brings Pumpkins, Ghosts and Halloween.....but only pumpkin will nourish you.
By Laura MacDougall
You know that pumpkin is edible, right? Did you know only certain varietals are really good though (all are truly edible, but some are very coarse and stringy). According to Intervale Farm in Maine , these are the best edible pumpkins:
- Baby Pam - A three to four pound, smooth, sweet pumpkin. So smooth, you may not really need to puree this one. A true winner for making pie.
- Long Pie - An heirloom variety - great for pie.
- Winter Luxury - A three to five pound pumpkin. A favorite for pies. Deep, true pumpkin flavor make this one a contest winner. Also a unique-looking beauty with its netted skin.
- Small Sugar - The traditional, standard pie pumpkin weighing 3-6 pounds.
- Snack Jack - For gourmet roasted seeds, this is the best pumpkin. This small pumpkin produces about 3/4 cup of hull-less pumpkin seeds. Mix fresh seeds with olive oil, garlic, and seasonings such as garlic pepper and salt. Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes until the seeds start to pop.
Cazuela Pumpkins are used a lot in South American dishes, from stews to pies but harder to find in New England...perhaps you have them in your area?
Pumpkins provide their flesh for a multitude of uses, and their seeds for snacking. From pies, and bars, to soups and stews, pumpkin is highly nutritious.
Pumpkin is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. One cup of fresh mashed pumpkin contains just 49 calories and 2gs protein.
Great you say. I love pumpkin pie you say. But pie isn't always good for us, is it? Well, no...but there are lots of ways to cook a pumpkin. By the way, Check here for my favorite pie.
Pumpkin blends nicely with Sage, thyme, warm spices - Garam Masala, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves - and also with chilies....so get creative! Yummy with peanuts and coconut too. Here are more great pumpkin ideas:
- Chunk pumpkin for stew - big in South American and African communities. Try a Beef and Pumpkin Stew (can often be vegetarian with beans substituting for the beef).
- Use in baked goods from breads and cakes to cheese cakes and cookies like Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars and Jack-O-Lantern Cheesecakes.
- Create a Good Soup such as Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish or Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Pumpkin Soup with Mexican Cinnamon Crème Fraiche and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe.
- Make a great Pumpkin Appetizer.
- Prepare a Perfect Pumpkin Pasta. Try tortellini, lasagna, or toss some roasted squash with sage, brown butter and some pecorino cheese over your favorite pasta. Add toasted hazelnuts for a little crunch!
By the way, Butternut Squash is a good stand in for pumpkin.....
Cherish the Fall season. Think Jack O'Lanterns, Ghosts, Goblins, and dinner! In the words of Charlie Brown - It's The Great Pumpkin! It will be in my kitchen for sure!
Happy Halloween to all,
Laura MacDougall, Owner
Published October 11, 2012