6 Ways to Spark Your Passion for Pumpkin
Nothing says fall more than the familiar bright orange of a cheerful pumpkin. Beyond carving the perfect jack o’lantern, here are six fantastic ways to get passionate about pumpkin…
Pumpkin seeds punch a pack of flavour as well as plenty health benefits. They are an excellent source of magnesium, zinc, omega-3, natural phytoestrogens, antioxidants, fibre, and tryptophan. With so many healthy ingredients you will see improvements to your heart health, blood, sleep patterns, prostate health for men, and lessening of menopausal symptoms for women. They also help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. They are a little messy to prepare but well worth the effort. Simply remove them from the pumpkin, separate the sticky membrane and pat dry. Then you can toss them with olive oil and salt or your favourite seasonings and roast them for about fifteen minutes or until they turn slightly golden. They can be eaten with the skins on or you can peel them and add them to salads, ice cream, yogurt, stir fries, baking and just about anything to add a pleasant nutty flavour and a little crunch.
Pumpkin as a Side Dish:
Pumpkin is just as versatile as squash and sweet potatoes so is ideal for side dishes. You can do just about anything with it from mashing and pureeing to roasting and glazing. It has a wonderful flavour that can be enhanced with any number of ingredients or it can be paired with other vegetables from potatoes to fennel. You can also roast it with fruits from dried cranberries or raisins to fresh pears and apples. Small pumpkins can also be hallowed out and stuffed with your favourite stuffing recipe. The lovely orange flesh will become tender and can be scooped out with each spoonful of stuffing.
Pumpkin Baked Goods:
Pumpkin is not just for pies. Pureed pumpkin is the perfect base for cakes, loaves, muffins, and breads. It is also an excellent flavour base for custards, flans and even bread puddings. Cheesecakes, fudge and cookie recipes all do well with the addition of versatile and pleasingly moist pumpkin. Of course the seeds can also be added to baked goods in place of your favourite nut.
Pumpkin has a deeper, more fragrant flavour than squash and makes an excellent, velvety smooth soup. You can roast it in quarters with a little olive oil until tender, or boil it and then puree it. Pumpkin lends itself well to many global flavours from the sweet and hot curry of India or the Caribbean to a pungent earthy flavour of cumin used in Middle Eastern and Mexican foods. It can also be simmered with traditional herbs such as classic French tarragon or combined with hints of ginger and garlic for an Asian flair. To complete your soup you can use stock for a thinner, lighter soup or dairy such as cream or yogurt for a richer soup. Traditional pumpkin pie spices can also be used for an aromatic soup served with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.
Soups, Stews and Pasta Fillings:
Pumpkin can be added to your favourite soups and stews for a punch of colour as well as flavour and texture. It really can be added to any recipe as it has a mellow, pleasing flavour that will not over power the rest of the ingredients. It can also be pureed and used as a filling for ravioli, cannelloni, or pasta shells. Here’s a favourite one-pot pumpkin pasta recipe.
Pumpkin as Decor:
Pumpkins have long been a favourite fall decorative touch from mini pumpkins and gourds on Thanksgiving tables, to massive bright orange pumpkins stacked on bales of straw and hay on front lawns. You can sit them on the steps leading up to your front porch or place them indoors on your dining room table. Pumpkins can be hallowed out and used as a serving dish or even tapped to serve punches for fall dinner parties. There are also lovely creamy toned pumpkins which offer an elegant upscale look. Of course Halloween would not be the same without the wonderful faces of laughing or screeching jack o lanterns aglow in windows, front lawns and stoops.