Monday, October 31, 2011

What to Do with All those Pumpkins?

Waste not, want not. -English proverb

"I don't like pumpkin pie, but this is delicious. What is it?" Various people commenting on pie made with fresh pumpkin

Pumpkins and other squash are used so much for decoration that people seem to forget they're edible. The flesh and seeds are a little on the carby side, but the seeds are full of minerals and pumpkin flesh is full of beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium.

If pumpkin doesn't sound appetizing, you're not alone: I never considered eating it until I was in my 30s. My mother makes a gooey, sugary concoction that desecrates acorn squash and we threw out jack-o-lanterns on November 1 when I was a kid. Pumpkin pie was made from canned goop. Forget all that. These are savory recipes I think you'll love, and they don't take much hands-on time.

How to Roast a Pumpkin
If you think you don't like pumpkin, maybe it's because you've never had anything but the canned goop. Here's how to roast a fresh pumpkin.

Stab the pumpkin a few times with a steak knife. Place it on a cookie sheet and roast it at 350F for 60 to 90 minutes, until it feels a little spongy. Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Cut it in half, scrape out and save the seeds, and scrape the flesh from the skin. Discard the skin and mash the flesh. Refrigerate or freeze.

Pumpkin-Sausage Soup
Even though pumpkin tends to be used in sweets, it isn't sweet on its own. This is a meaty, savory soup.

1/4 pound sausage
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 c chicken stock
1/4 t pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dried parsley
1/2 t thyme
1-1/2 c roasted pumpkin
2 T butter
2 T coconut flour
1/2 c cream

In a large pot, fry the sausage over medium heat. When done, add the garlic, then the chicken stock, pumpkin and spices. Bring to a boil. Transfer to another pot. In the first pot, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Stir in flour, scraping the sausage from the bottom of the pot. Add the soup and stir in the cream.

Fried Pumpkin Seeds
This tastes similar to popcorn or roasted nuts. Soaking the seeds helps eliminate the anti-nutrients.

2 c water
1 T salt
1 T vinegar
Seeds from one pumpkin
2 T butter

Dissolve the salt in the water and add vinegar and seeds. Soak overnight. Rinse, melt the butter in a pot on medium heat and add the seeds. Cook, stirring occasionally, for an hour to an hour and a half. 

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