This Is All about The Pumpkin!
I. SOME FACTS
1. WHAT IS A PUMPKIN? A pumpkin is a winter squash and a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. This family of vegetables also includes: summer squash, zucchini, and cucumber.
2. HEALTH BENEFITS – Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, and are a useful source of Vitamin E. They are low in calories and fat. In addition, they contain Vitamin K. They are high in protein and contain trace minerals such as zinc, copper, and iron.
3. PUMPKIN USE – Pumpkins and gourds are used to decorate the household – both inside and outside during the autumn season. They can be used in a wide array of culinary applications (such as ‘main’ or ‘side’ dishes), desserts, stir-fry, soups, stews or in a curry. They can be roasted, slow-cooked or boiled. Don’t forget to make a pumpkin sauce, or use them instead of artificial thickeners in your soups and stews! A hollowed out pumpkin can be used as a festive receptacle for a soup or stew.
4. HOW TO PICK – Larger pumpkins (and pumpkins with unusual shapes or skins) are for decorative purposes only. As a general rule, the larger the pumpkin – the less flavorful it will be. If you are looking for a roasting pumpkin, choose a small roundish one with smooth skin between 2 and 6 pounds.
5. HOW TO STORE PUMPKINS – Store in a dry, dark, cool place (50-60° Fahrenheit).
6. FRESHNESS – October is harvest time for pumpkins. Throughout the winter, if you would like to ensure freshness, look for a well-attached stem. If you gently press your nail against its’ skin it will seem flexible.
1. SIMPLE ROASTED PUMPKIN (Ingredients): 1 small pumpkin, 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper.
Procedure: Preheat oven to 400°F. Follow cutting directions below. Drizzle pumpkin flesh with oil, then sprinkle salt and pepper onto it. Roast until it is very soft (about 35-45 min).
2. SPICED PUMPKIN (Ingredients): 1 pumpkin, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander, 1tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Procedure: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small mixing bowl – combine the spices with the olive oil. Rub mixture onto the pumpkin. Roast the pumpkin for 35-45 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. The smaller you slice it, the quicker it will cook.
3. HOW TO ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS*: Wash and dry your seeds and place them on a paper towel until completely dry. Preheat oven to 300°F. Choose an oil (rice bran, coconut, or olive oil) and brush 1tsp of the oil onto the seeds. Lightly salt. Roast 20-25 minutes until they start to brown. *Options: For cinnamon sugar seeds, omit the salt and roast seeds as noted above, let cool and toss with brown sugar and cinnamon. Put back in the oven to roast another 10-15 minutes. To try a spicy seed, toss the seeds with a drizzle of honey and either chili flakes, curry powder or some sriracha before you put them in the oven for an extra 10-15 minutes.
4. HOW TO ROAST A PUMPKIN (Pie ~ Ingredients): 2-3 lbs. pumpkin, cooking oil (such as olive oil, canola or vegetable).
Procedure: Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the stem by turning your pumpkin on its side. Then, with a sawing motion – cut it from top to bottom. Next, cut the pumpkin in half. Using a large spoon (serrated spoon or ice cream scooper), spoon out the seeds and the strings attached to them (save the seeds if you’d like). Cut your pumpkin into wedges about three inches wide. Lightly brush the pumpkin flesh with oil. Roast at 400°F for about 35-45 minutes until fork-tender. Take it out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut off the now softened outer skin and discard it. Put the pumpkin into a blender or food processor and purée. It is now ready to make a pie, a smoothie, etc. Store it in your fridge for several days or freeze for later use.
5. PUMPKIN GNOCCHI (6-8 serving ~ Ingredients): 2 cups of freshly cooked pumpkin pulp, well-drained. 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs – slightly beaten, 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. marjoram, 1/4 tsp. sage, 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1/4 tsp. celery salt, 1/4 tsp. white pepper, 1¼ cups of flour, 4 Tbsp. butter.
Procedure: Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. In a bowl – combine the pumpkin, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, eggs, nutmeg, herbs and white pepper. Add about a cup of flour to the mixture until it is thick enough to hold its shape. Put the other 1/4 cup of flour on a wooden board. With floured fingers, pick off a small amount of pumpkin mixture and shape into a small ball. Roll it lightly in the flour, then place on a piece of parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 200°F. Butter a large baking dish. The gnocchi are cooked in batches and will need to be kept warm. Put about a dozen gnocchi at a time in the boiling water. When they float to the surface in a minute, skim them out of the water and put them in the oven. When all your gnocchi are done, melt butter and pour it over the gnocchi, and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan over it.