Fall is here, and it’s time for hot cider, hearty stews and, naturally, pumpkins. They’re everywhere – piled in front of grocery stores and farmers markets, decorating the classroom and even gracing the front desk at the gym. And why not? They’re colorful, festive, have a long shelf life and…yes, they taste pretty darn good.
They’re cheap this time of year – sometimes just pennies per pound. Some farms give them away free. And they’re perfect for lots more than just turning into jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin is good for you. It’s a rich source of beta carotene, vitamin A and other antioxidants. And pumpkin seeds contain polyunsaturated oils.
Pumpkin can be turned into the traditional pie, of course, or a popular quick bread. It also goes into cookies, bread pudding, pancakes, waffles, cakes, cheesecake, muffins, bars and other baked goods. But it has savory uses, too – pumpkin soup (served in hollowed-out mini pumpkins), paired with sausage in a stew, and as a filling for ravioli or lasagna.
To make something with fresh pumpkin, start by roasting it in the oven. Cut it into halves or quarters (depending on its size), scoop out the seeds (save for toasting later, if you’d like), and put the pieces in a roasting pan with about half a cup of water, and roast it in a 350-degree oven till it’s really tender. Let it cool, then scoop it out of the skin with a spoon. Puree the pulp in a food processor or blender to make sure all the stringy bits are gone. At this point, either use or freeze the pumpkin puree.
An average pumpkin will yield about 2 cups of puree, just enough for a pumpkin pie – or this richly decadent recipe below. Serve this pumpkin cobbler for a holiday meal and nobody will ever want plain old pie again.
- 4 cups fresh (or 29-ounce can) pumpkin
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ cup chopped nuts
Blend together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, spices and evaporated milk. Pour into a buttered 13-by-9-inch pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the top (it seems like a lot, but it works). Drizzle melted butter over cake mix, then top with brown sugar and chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 20 minutes.
Top with fresh whipped cream. Serves a bunch — at least 12.
This one’s a favorite in my family. But you can find hundreds more recipes for pumpkin on the Food Network site.