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Put Your Pumpkin Where Your Mouth Is

Posted by Zoe Riccio
Zoe Riccio
Zoe is currently the Assistant Food Service Director for New Britain Public Schools, where she coordinates the...
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on Monday, 21 October 2013 in Culinary Trends

 

pumpkinTis the season for all things pumpkin: pumpkin lattes, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins. Some of these items are better than others—I do not recommend a pumpkin bagel. The list of ‘pumpkin’ flavored items seems to abound endlessly, but very few things are actually pumpkin based. Upon further inspection, the flavors of most of these items are derived from sugar and the spices used in pumpkin pie: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sometimes allspice. These are fine flavors in their right, and they are a good combination, but pumpkin can and does exist apart from them.

 

I am not saying we shouldn’t celebrate this native North American harvest favorite; I am saying let’s celebrate it wholly and properly. If we get back to basics, pumpkins are just squashes, cousins to acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti and multiple other varieties. Most of us can think of ways to eat squash without adding copious amounts of sugar, and so we can easily do the same with pumpkin. Most of the time cooking with real pumpkin is going to need it pureed, and while it is available in a can that is hardly a celebration. Cooking a pumpkin?!?! Don’t freak out, it doesn’t need to be (and really shouldn’t be) a 35 pound jack-o-lantern special. Look for a pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin in the produce section near the other squashes. It will still be larger than other types of squashes, but not unmanageable.

 

Once it’s in your kitchen, treat it like a regular squash: cut in half or quarters and scoop out the seeds—feel free to roast them for a snack or garnish. Place the halves or quarters open side down in a baking dish with a ½ inch of water and roast at 375 until soft…forty-five to sixty minutes depending on size. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and scoop out the now very soft flesh of the pumpkin. You can mash it with a potato masher, hand mixer or even a food processor depending on how smooth you want it.

 

Now you are ready to make pumpkin whatever you like, including the basics like pie and muffins. I like to mix fresh pumpkin puree into chili or risotto. A great way to enjoy the pure unadulterated pumpkin goodness of your efforts is pumpkin soup. Try it with fresh sage or curry powder for a delicious departure from the usual pumpkin spice suspects. I hope you have a delightful autumn and explore new ways to get your pumpkin on!

 

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Zoe is currently the Assistant Food Service Director for New Britain Public Schools, where she coordinates the district's catered affairs with style and flair. Zoe holds an Associate's Degree in Baking and Pastry Art from Johnson & Wales and a Bachelor's Degree in Nutritional Science from University of Connecticut (with a minor in English, concentration in Food Science) and is certified as a School Nutrition Specialist. She is also a Free Lance Writer for the Farmer General Online Magazine.

Comments

Guest
Holly Monday, 21 October 2013

I love the idea of using pumpkin in nontraditional ways. I have never been a fan of pumpkin pie, but I love it in breads, soups, etc.

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Guest
Guest Sunday, 10 December 2017