It didn’t take long before we saw pumpkins popping up everywhere!
It wasn’t just at the pumpkin patch waiting to become jack-o-lanterns, but we have been encountering pumpkins on shelves and menus everywhere, maybe even in our own homes!
Have they made it to your plate?
There are more and more recipes incorporating pumpkins and spices we love to mix with pumpkin joining restaurant menus across the country.
Here are some that I have seen recently:
Pumpkin lasagna Pumpkin latte and frappe
Pumpkin fettucini Pumpkin beer
Pumpkin soup Treats:
Pumpkin risotto Candied pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin sandwich Pumpkin fudge
Pumpkin as soup tureens Stuffed pumpkin blossoms
Pumpkin bread and muffins
Pumpkin ice cream
Have you seen these on menus in your favorite restaurants and bakeries?
Have you ordered them? Have you made some of these at home?
Most of us have had pumpkin pie and some other pumpkin desserts at one time or another, but the newer recipes like pumpkin hummus are intriguing to many pumpkin lovers.
Choosing Pumpkins for Cooking
Using pumpkin in our home recipes will definitely spice up our meals and add some variety to our plate.
Pumpkin is a squash that can be more than just a decoration or a jack-o-lantern. There are different varieties, however, so it is best to cook with a pumpkin designed for cooking and not the carving pumpkin variety.
Cooking pumpkin flesh is sweeter and their skins are thinner, making them easier to prepare. Varieties that are good for cooking include Small Sugar, New England Pie and Long Island Cheese.
If you can’t find a cooking variety, you can use the carving pumpkin but be aware that it is a bit more fibrous and will taste more like a potato.
Joy of Cooking with Pumpkins
To cook with a pumpkin, select one that is firm and has a stiff stem. Avoid one with a soft spot or bruise. It should feel heavier than its size. A five pound pumpkin should yield about 4 cups of mashed pumpkin. One 16oz. can of pumpkin is equivalent to 2 cups of mashed pulp.
You can freeze extra cooked pumpkin to use later; it will keep for a few months.
To prepare your pumpkin, wash the skin then cut it open at the top to scoop out the pulp and seeds. Keep the seeds for roasting later. You can bake or boil your pumpkin pieces. Boiling will require you to peel the rind off before cooking but when you bake it in halves or quarters, you will be able to scoop out the flesh after it is done.
Naturally, you can use the canned pumpkin to incorporate into your favorite recipes or when you try something new. Be sure the one you choose has only one ingredient – pumpkin. Read the label before you buy. Canned pumpkin is more consistent in texture and is already cooked.
Nutrition Benefits of Pumpkins
Pumpkins are chock full of nutrients, especially Vitamin A, as they are rich in beta-carotene. A ½ cup of pumpkin flesh has about half a day’s requirement of Vitamin A.
This squash is low in calories, with 30 calories per cup, and are good sources of antioxidants, including lutein, xanthin and carotenes. There are also 2.7 grams of fiber in each cup of mashed pumpkin.
Pumpkins certainly add to the rainbow we are trying to put on our plates.
When we cook with pumpkin, we often need to add in the pumpkin pie spice. Here’s a great recipe to make our own with the spices you have on hand.
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.
- Pour into shaker jar using a funnel.
- Store in a cool, dry place.
- Reuse a spice jar with a shaker top when making your own spice blends.