Halloween is behind us, and maybe you have a pumpkin or two left over from carving your jack-o’-lanterns;or perhaps you’ve been to the grocery store and picked up a couple because they’re suddenly really cheap. Now you’re wondering what to do with them. You know you can roast the seeds or make pumpkin pie, but perhaps you want something different to spice up your autumn.
If so, here are some suggestions to help you please your palate with pumpkin this fall. These ideas come from the kitchen at my house, where I often cook with this lovely orange squash.
Because pumpkin belongs to the squash family, you can roast it in the oven and eat it as a side vegetable just as you would with any other squash. Here’s how:
If you haven’t already, seed the pumpkin and peel it. Cut the flesh into strips or cubes. Add pats of butter and/or drizzle with olive oil. Season as you like. Some suggestions include: Simple salt and pepper, a light blend of any herbs you like, such as rosemary and oregano or — the combo we use at my house because we like to blend sweet and spicy — cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Another delightful idea is to drizzle the pumpkin with maple syrup. Pop the pan into the oven and roast the pumpkin until tender. Depending on the size of your pieces, this takes about 45 minutes.
Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast
If you’re like me, you like to eat a sweet breakfast treat once in a while. In my kitchen, we sometimes satisfy this craving with our equivalent of eating pumpkin pie for breakfast — without actually eating pie. What I’m suggesting is pumpkin pancakes. The recipe (below) uses all the spices you’d normally use in pumpkin pie (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger). When you top the flapjacks with whipped cream, they taste just like pie, but without the guilt.
Baking Beyond Pie
Maybe you aren’t a fan of pumpkin pie, or maybe you eat it at Thanksgiving and at Christmas and that’s enough for you. In any case, you might like to try baking pumpkin into something other than pie. There are so many choices in this category; why not try more than one, especially if your pumpkin is quite large?
You can use pumpkin puree in a loaf, muffins, cookies, scones and even pumpkin cheesecake. All these treats are incredibly tasty. For a new twist, you can choose any baked goods that you would normally make with some other ingredient and add pumpkin instead.
Soups are On
Autumn days are often chilly and grey, so this time of year is soup season. One great way to use your leftover fall pumpkin is to make a steaming pot of soup. There are, of course, many sorts of soups you can create with pumpkin. Two favorites I enjoy are Thai-style pumpkin soup with chilies and lemongrass and pumpkin soup with lentils and bacon. The ways to incorporate pumpkin into your soup, though, are unlimited. All it takes is imagination and a good recipe website (or several).
With so many great ways to add pumpkin to your menu, there’s no need to toss your leftover ones in the trash now that Halloween is over. Pumpkin is so versatile that you may want to use it year round, not just in the fall. In that case, you should know that pumpkin puree freezes well, so you can pull it out and mix it in anytime you want.
If pumpkin pancakes appeal to you as much as they do to us, check out our recipe. These are especially delicious on cool autumn Sundays.
Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe
2 cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ginger
1 cup milk at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs with yolks and whites separated
½ cup applesauce at room temperature
⅓ cup oil
1. Prepare your frying pan with cooking spray or butter.
2. Heat on medium until hot.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin, egg yolks and applesauce.
5. Mix wet ingredients (except egg whites) into dry ingredients just until moistened.
6. Beat the egg whites until firm. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
7. Turn the heat to low. Ladle the batter into your pan. Use 2 or more tablespoons per pancake.
8. Cook until the bottom is light brown. Flip carefully and cook for 1 – 2 minutes more.
A tip about applesauce: Gerber’s makes apple sauce for babies with no added cornstarch or sugar.