It’s Pumpkin Season!

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Pumpkins in HayDo you think that fresh pumpkins are only good for jack o’lanterns? Do you ever wonder just how the heck you would deal with one if you wanted to cook with it? Then this blog is for you.

Canned pumpkin may be convenient, but it can’t beat a fresh pumpkin for flavor and nutrition. I know—they look intimidating, don’t they? But preparing a fresh pumpkin for food is as easy as, well, pie!

Buying a Pumpkin

You can buy just about any pumpkin and cook with it, but the sugar pumpkins are the easiest ones to deal with. They tend to be roughly the size of a volleyball, so they’re relatively easy to halve and bake. Bigger is not better in the kitchen. It needs to fit in your oven, after all!

How to Prepare a Pumpkin

Don’t bother cutting and peeling a pumpkin. It’s not necessary. To bake a pumpkin, simply follow these steps.

Cut the pumpkin in half, and then clean out the seeds. You could throw those away, but… why? They make a great snack!

Roasting pumpkin seeds

Clean the seeds in a colander, and then spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange your seeds on the sheet, spray them with more cooking spray, sprinkle them with some salt, and then bake them at 200° F for an hour or hour and a half, until they’re nicely toasted.

Baking the pumpkin

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For the pumpkin itself, place the two halves face up in a roasting pan with about an inch of water on the bottom. Spray the meat with cooking spray (to prevent drying), and then bake at 400° F for an hour, or until the meat is tender.

When it’s done, take it out and allow to cool for a bit. Then use a spoon to dig the meat away from the skin and put it in a bowl. Then you can mash it, and it’s ready to use in pumpkin bread, pie, or whatever you have in mind!

Mashed Pumpkin

You can serve mashed pumpkin as a vegetable side with any meal. Take your baked pumpkin, and add butter and salt to taste. For added flavor, add ¼ tsp of nutmeg.

Pumpkin Soup

This simple soup is rustic enough for a family supper and elegant enough for a dinner party.

You don’t have to bake the pumpkin and make a puree for this soup, although it’s all right if you do. If you baked the pumpkin in advance, just add the puree in with the broth.

1 large or 2 small winter squashes (in any combination)
1 large baking potato
2 large carrots
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1½–2 quarts good quality chicken broth (or vegetable broth if preferred)
¼ cup (½ stick) of butter
½–1 cup cream (to taste)
salt
black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
¼ tsp nutmeg
chopped fresh herbs, such as chives or cilantro, or 1–2 tsp herbes de provence

Peel and dice the pumpkin and potato. Chop the carrots, onion, and garlic.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot, taking care not to burn it. Add the vegetables and garlic and cook gently on medium heat for several minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring the pot up to a good simmer. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender (poke them with a fork to check). Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, ladle it into a blender in batches and whir until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the pot, and then add cream and season to taste. Heat through, but do not allow the soup to boil.

Garnish with chives or cilantro if you are lucky enough to have some fresh in your garden, and serve with good, crusty bread.

Two Pumpkin Bread recipes

This first recipe is a “standard” recipe, while the one that follows is gluten-free and reasonably low-carb. Choose whichever suits your needs!

Standard pumpkin bread

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed

Combine sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to previous mixture and mix well.

Stir in the pumpkin.

Pour batter into 2 loaf pans that have been well greased with butter. Bake at 350° F for approximately 1 hour. Allow to cool before removing from pans. The pumpkin bread will be very moist.

Gluten-free / low-carb pumpkin bread

1 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
4 eggs
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
3 cups almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed
4 Tbsp coconut flour

Combine honey, oil, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

Combine almond meal, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to previous mixture and mix well.

Stir in the pumpkin. Stir in the coconut flour, ensuring a good consistency. Coconut flour will thicken the batter, so if it’s too thin, you can add another Tbsp. If it’s on the thick side, reduce the number of Tablespoons.

Pour batter into 2 loaf pans that have been well greased with butter. Bake at 350° F for approximately 45 minutes (almond meal will burn if allowed to cook too long; a knife should come out mostly clean). Allow to cool before removing from pans. The pumpkin bread will be very moist.
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Asha Hawkesworth

Asha is passionate about enjoying life and making the most of what she has. She is a writer and painter and enjoys being with her family. She has written children's books and a book about the inner child (www.imaginalovemedia.com), as well as other blogs at brighthill.net and ashahawkesworth.com.

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