The holidays are known for delicious smells! Everywhere you go, there is something fragrant cooking or a yummy candle burning. A familiar spice that finds its way to your nose is actually a fruit! Pumpkin. They come in many shapes and colors and can be used in a variety of creative ways. The little green ones (kabocha), for example, are great in curries, the calabasa (dark green) are often used in Mexican stews and tacos, and sugar pies can be used in custards! You’ve probably had a bite or two of pumpkin pie, but besides pie or carving a jack-o-lantern at Halloween, what do you do with a pumpkin? Here are a few tips and recipes so you can broaden your repertoire!
Most dishes will call for pureed pumpkin. You can buy canned pumpkin at the store, or you can make your own by roasting a cleaned and halved pumpkin, brushed with olive oil, skin side down for 30 min to 1 hour until tender. Remove the flesh and puree or mash with a fork.
Or you can:
• Boil it: In a large pot with 1 inch of water, add chopped pumpkin and simmer ~25 min
• Steam it: for ~30 min
Depending on the variety, pumpkins will have an array of flavors and uses. The sweet and refined varieties are best for pies while dry and dense varieties are great for soups and stews. What to look for:
• A pumpkin that is firm and heavy for its size
• Look for consistent coloring throughout
• Check for soft spots or open cuts (indicative of spoilage)
• Choose one with a solidly attached stem
Now, to the cooking!
• Pumpkin Quesadillas
Roast pumpkin with salt and olive oil. Remove flesh and mix with caramelized onions, roasted sliced poblano pepper, and cheese. Place between two tortillas and grill on both sides.
Cut top off the pumpkin and clean out guts. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, brown sugar and curry powder. Roast for 30 min, then add meat stew and serve!
• Pumpkin “Pie” Quinoa Parfait
Fill bottom of glass with ¼ c crushed graham crackers. Mix 1 c. greek yogurt, 1/3 c. pureed pumpkin and 1 tsp pumpkin spice and layer ½ this mixture over graham crackers. Chill. Cook 1/8 c dry quinoa and toss with cinnamon. Cool, then place ½ c. over yogurt mixture. Top off with remaining yogurt mixture and sprinkle pecans on top. Yum!
• Pumpkin Pancakes
Mix 1 c wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp salt, 1 T sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp cloves. Separately, mix ½ c milk, ½ c pumpkin puree and 2 eggs. Mix wet and dry ingredients for your pancake batter. Drop spoonfuls on a hot griddle for a festive breakfast treat!
You don’t have to be jealous of those delicious holiday smells coming from someone else’s kitchen any longer! Buy a couple pumpkins and try out one of these new pumpkin dishes for your next holiday potluck.
Research assistance provided by Ashley Ingram