So one of the things we sell here at the farm that not many people know what to do with is squash and pumpkins. I can hear y’all protesting this accusation from here. But trust me when I say: there is a huge difference in pumpkins and squash used for decorating, and those used for cooking. There is also a difference in pumpkins and squash from a can and a fresh pumpkin or squash, although I am sure that does not come as a surprise. Maybe I’ll just talk about the different cultivars of pumpkin and list a recipe for each one.
So after I started gathering my recipes I realized that all of them called for pumpkin puree. Since I am talking about using fresh pumpkin not canned pumpkin I thought I would include a simple set of instructions on how to make your own pumpkin puree.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Rinse and pat dry the pumpkin. Cut the squash from stem to end, but don’t try to cut through the stem (it’s too tough). When you’ve cut through the pumpkin, just pull each half apart. You can do this in two parts. Cut one side from the stem down to the bottom of the pumpkin. Remove the knife, rotate the pumpkin to the opposite side then do the same. When there is a slit down both halves of the pumpkin, put down the knife and pull the halves apart. They should separate at the stem. Scoop out the seeds and most of the stringy bits, then place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkin can easily be pierced with a knife in several places and the flesh is pulling away from the skin, 45 to 60 minutes.
Cool until you can safely handle the halves then scoop out the soft flesh into a food processor — depending on how large the pumpkin is, you may need to do this in two batches. Process until very smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. A 4 to 6 pound pumpkin should make 5 to 6 cups of pumpkin puree.
Of all the cooking pumpkin varieties my favorite is Cinderella.
These are a flat, almost smashed looking pumpkin. They do not carve well at all, although they do stack nicely. The best thing about them is the way they taste. It is not a stringy pumpkin, and it does not have a bunch of seeds. The flesh is on the sweet side, and creamy. An easy way to cook Cinderella pumpkins is to slice them like cantaloupe, scoop out the seeds and bake them in the oven.* However the best way to cook this pumpkin is by turning it into soup. Since this is already a creamy pumpkin, and dairy and I are not friends, I skip the dairy and it still tastes amazing. Here is the recipe for pumpkin soup.
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Large Yellow Onions Sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 3 ¾ Cups Pumpkin Puree
- 2 Cups Chicken Stock
- 2 Cups Water
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook stirring occasionally until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to the onions and stir constantly for one minute.
- Add 1/4 Cup of the chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the remaining chicken broth, water, and pumpkin puree and stir to combine.
- Turn heat to low and simmer the soup for 20 minutes.
- Turn the stove off and use a handheld immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternately, use a regular blender and puree the soup in 2-3 batches.
- Stir the heavy cream into the soup, serve immediately with warm bread if desired.
Galeux d’Eysines is a french heirloom variety. It is often called peanut pumpkin because the warty growths on the rind look like peanuts.
Don’t let the funky look of this pumpkin keep you from cooking with it. The peanut pumpkin is a very sweet pumpkin which makes them perfect for a sweet treat like these pumpkin pancakes.
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
- Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
My final pumpkin recipe is more of a side dish than a main** dish. Any of the cooking pumpkins can be used in this recipe. My favorite is a Long Island Cheese pumpkin.
This is another heirloom variety.*** One of the great things about the Long Island Cheese pumpkin is that it can keep for a long time. So you can buy it but not have to use it right away. This pumpkin has a rich earthy flavor similar to yams, or sweet potatoes. Here is a recipe for pumpkin and brussel sprouts.
- 1 medium pie pumpkin (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, Brussels sprouts and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; drizzle over vegetables and toss to coat.
- 2. Transfer to a greased 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Roast 35-40 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Sprinkle with parsley.
*This is actually the easy way to cook all pumpkins.
**Do pancakes count as a main dish?
***I have read it got its name because it looks like a wheel of cheese, having never seen a wheel of cheese I cannot confirm this.
Hope you enjoy these as we welcome the cooler weather, wonderful holidays, and time with the family!