Putting pumpkin on the menu

Posted on October 25, 2017 by Brynna Gabrielson

Banner image of a pumpkin sliced in half

Have you noticed how popular pumpkin has become over the past few years? Pumpkin Spice, once a lovely hot drink flavour in Autumn, has now invaded any number of products, edible or not. Donuts, oatmeal, cakes, body creams, and air fresheners. The list goes on.

We don't mind, because well, pumpkin is delicious! Used in dishes both sweet and savoury, pumpkin is a great ingredient that brings autumn to life on your plate! And it's good for you! It can support your immune system, help your heart, and keep you nice and full thanks to its fibre content!

So next time you pass by that display of pumpkins at your local shop, why not buy one - not to carve for Halloween - but to eat!

Pumpkin friesFantastic fries

If you like sweet potato fries then these are a must try! First things first - you need to gut your pumpkin! Using a large sharp knife, slice that pumpkin in half and scoop out all the stringy pulp and seeds (hang on to those seeds though, they're delightful roasted).  Cut your pumpkin halves into smaller, more manageable chunks and then peel the skin off.

Next, use your knife to slice your pumpkin chunks into fries. Think skinny fries here - the thicker they are, the less crisp they'll get when cooked. Aim for half an inch thick at widest, a third of an inch is even better.

Next place your fries in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for about 30 minutes and then drain and pat your fries dry.  Spread evenly on a baking try.  Drizzle with olive oil, shake the pan to coat, and then sprinkle with some seasoning - we like to use a bit of salt, cayenne and parmesan cheese! Bake in oven at 200c (fan assisted) for 15-20 minutes.

Sumptuous sauce

The easiest way to make a nice pasta sauce with pumpkin is using a puree, which can be bought tinned from some shops (try the baking section), however if you're working with a fresh pumpkin there is still hope!

First you'll need to chop your pumpkin in half and remove the pulp and seeds.  Next, use the knife to slice your pumpkin halves into smaller pieces. Cover a baking tray in parchment paper and then lay the pumpkin slices on it, flesh side down (bright orange skin facing up!).  Bake at 180 for 45 - 60 minutes, until flesh is tender and can be pierced with a fork.  Let your pumpkin cool, then scoop flesh away from skin and place in a bowl.  Use a blender to puree.

Now in a frying pan, melt 1 tbsp. of butter and add 1 clove of garlic, minced. Sautee for 1-2 minutes and then add 230g of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of milk. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and well combined. Add 1/4 cup of grated parmesan and  1 cup of pureed pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sage leaves are also quite nice! If you find the sauce is too thick, try adding a bit more milk.

Stir into your pasta of choice. Chicken and bacon make excellent additions.

Pumpkin soupSuper soup

Pumpkin is the perfect ingredient for a warm and filling Autumnal soup. You can make it with pumpkin puree - tinned or homemade - or start with fresh pumpkin.

If you start with fresh pumpkin prepare as you would in making puree outlined in our sauce recipe. Cut it up, remove the seeds and pulp, and then cook in the oven until soft.  Remove the flesh from the skin and put aside in a bowl.

In pan pour a small glug of olive oil and add one white onion, finely chopped. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add your pumpkin, cooked or pureed, and 600ml of vegetable or chicken stock. Add 200ml of double cream and then use a blender to combine until velvety and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Clever cakes

Like carrot, pumpkin makes a great addition to cakes, eliciting a final product that is moist and delightful.  While pumpkin suits a spiced cake well, it's gentle flavour means you can also use it in chocolate cakes. You can use both grated and pureed pumpkin, depending on the recipe. And there are plenty of recipes out there! This Chocolate pumpkin pound cake looks absolutely stunning.  And we'll admit to drooling over this Pumpkin streusel coffee cake!

If you're not up for making a cake from scratch, here's a fun tip. Get a box of chocolate cake mix and add one can of pumpkin puree (or your own homemade version), skipping the eggs and oil the box advises. Bake as instructed on the box and the result will be a lovely, moist, dense cake with a bit of extra fibre and quite a few saved calories. 

Pumpkin PiePerfect pie

Pumpkin may seem to fit best in the world of savoury dishes, but as Thanksgiving shows - North American's have been putting pumpkin in their desserts for quite some time. Pumpkin pie is a classic - though there are many many ways you can indulge in a pumpkin laden dessert!

Knocking out a pumpkin pie can be quite quick if you have canned pumpkin on hand. If not, once more you'll need to make puree. This recipe from BBC Good Food is worth a look. Or for a more interesting twist, try this Pumpkin pecan pie recipe

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