Main Ingredient - Pumpkin
Before there was pumpkin spice, there were pumpkins. Luckily, good-eating pumpkins of all shapes and sizes have been making a comeback, and you can find a fine selection being grown around the state. Farmers’ markets, CSAs, food hubs, and even your local grocer are probably offering pumpkins right now — bring home a bunch! Not only are they beautiful simply set on your kitchen table, but we all know how fun they are to carve. Beyond the jack-o-lanterns that I usually stick on my front porch, I’m thinking about trying this fun version.
Now, let’s talk about dinner. Pumpkins are pretty easy to cook. You can simply halve them, scoop out the seeds and the stringy pulp, and place the cleaned pumpkin halves on a sheet pan for roasting in your oven. It takes about an hour at 350 degrees to get the insides soft, just scoop the tender meat away from the skin and you’re ready to utilize it in soups, stews, pies, and more.
You can also cut the top out of a pumpkin, clean it, roast it in the oven, and then actually serve from the pumpkin. Soup, risotto, or a pasta dish featuring pumpkin would make for a real showstopper.
Another preparation method is to clean, peel, and cut the pumpkin to size before cooking it. I brought home a bunch of pumpkins and tried several methods. For puree, roasting the halves and then scooping out the meat worked well—I just put the cooked pumpkin in my blender with a little chicken stock and ended up with a thick puree. I also peeled and cut some pumpkin into a large dice, then I tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted in a glass baking dish at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It browned nicely and was ready to serve as a side or add to a soup or stew.
For this curried coconut pumpkin soup, I added peeled and diced raw pumpkin and let it soften while it cooked in the soup. Since I pureed it at the end, I didn’t worry about having perfectly diced pumpkin—they were roughly the same size chunks and it turned out delicious.
Definitely save the seeds. Just rinse off the stringy pumpkin, toss the clean seeds with olive oil and your favorite seasoning blend, and then roast in a 350-degree oven until they are golden brown. Pair them with this recipe for pickled pumpkin. I was skeptical too, but the flavors are fresh and delicious. The lemon and the cinnamon added to the slightly sweet brine yielded a tasty bite of pumpkin that worked really well with salty pumpkin seeds. Upscale football snacks for sure!
Finally, try this pumpkin gratin. You can make it ahead of time and bake just before dinner. It’s easy, elegant, and a perfect fall side dish to pair with roast chicken or duck.
And you know who else likes pumpkin? Your pup! It’s a good source of nutrition for dogs, so if you find yourself with a bit too much to handle, add that extra pumpkin to your dog’s dinner (or try these homemade dog biscuits).