Nothing says fall like the taste of pumpkin and spice.There are a couple basic components to cooking with pumpkin. Once you have some of the techniques down, there are lots of recipes you can try. Here are a few basic ideas on what you can do with two great parts of the pumpkin—the seeds and the meat. I’ve given basic recipes for both, as well as given you a variety of links to check out to elevate this humble ingredient. The recipes below vary in difficulty, but I’m sure you can find something you’ll be comfortable making.
One of the easiest—and healthiest, and delicious—things you can make are roasted pumpkin seeds. This is especially good if you are carving the pumpkin, so you aren’t wasting the insides. There are so many different flavors and takes on this healthy snack that you are sure to find something that interests your taste buds. Check out this great selection on allrecipe. Just separate the seeds from the pulp and pat them dry before you start. I am a bit of a purist, so all I use are the seeds, some olive oil or melted butter, and some salt. I mix the seeds with the oil/butter and salt, and then put them in the oven at 200 degrees F for about an hour or so. Once the seeds are crispy and dry, I pull them out, let them cool, and put them in an airtight container. Yummy!
Next upis a useful ingredient in lots of recipes: pumpkin puree. You can buy canned puree, sure, but it isn’t that hard to make your own. You take a pumpkin, cut it in half (top to bottom) and clean all the seeds and goop. Lay the pieces, flesh side down, in a roasting pan. Put them in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F for about a half hour—you’ll know it is done when the rind is easily pierced with a paring knife. Let it cool. Then, using a spoon or ice cream scoop, scrape the sides of the pumpkin down to the skin to get the meat. Put the meat in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. There you have it—pumpkin puree! You can use it for almost anything (including pie, but I’ll get to that later). You can add it as a flavor to your coffee or to boost the taste of your morning pancakes. But there are other options. I’ve seen recipes for everything from tasty appetizers like pumpkin hummus to desserts like gingersnap cookies to more traditional pumpkin soup recipes. Pumpkin is also a perfect complement for pasta—either as a filling or in a sauce. Get creative and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Of course, one of the greatest things you can do with a pumpkin is make a pie. You can go completely from scratch, use canned puree and refrigerated pie dough, or use some kind of happy medium. If you’re using a canned puree, there is typically a recipe on the side of the can. But if you’ve made some of your own thanks to the recipe above (make sure it doesn’t call for a spice mix, just plain canned pumpkin puree), you can try simply substituting yours for canned.Or you can try a recipe like thisthat calls specifically for fresh puree.
I hope you try some of these recipes out, or feel free to share your own in the comments!