By the time October 31 rolls around, you may be sick and tired of seeing pumpkins everywhere. But now is actually the ideal time to be reminded of all the goodness inside these orange orbs.
Pumpkins are, of course, part of the winter squash family. Many people don’t realize that nearly every part of this fruit can be eaten: The pulp is used in pies, breads, soups, and more; the blossoms are often breaded and fried; and the roasted seeds make a tasty and nutritious snack (some people eat them with the shell; some without. The shell guarantees that you’ll get a whopping serving of zinc). In general, pumpkins pack a powerful nutritional punch. Full of cancer-fighting beta carotene, they are a great source of fiber and offers healthy doses of tryptophan and vitamin C.
There are hundreds of pumpkin varieties, with some being better for carving, and some ideal for baking and eating. The sugar pie pumpkin is one of the most popular varieties; with its thin skin and sweet, non-grainy fruit, it is today’s go-to pumpkin for pies. (Although you should be aware that when you open up a can of pumpkin pie “filling,” the bright orange fruit has likely come from the hubbard squash — not a pumpkin!)
In general, winter squash are characterized by their thick, hard skin and long shelf life; if stored properly, they can last up to a year. In the recipe at right, chefs at the Culinary Institute mix up pumpkin with two other winter squash varieties. Acorn squash is sweet and nutty with a smooth texture; butternut is also sweet and nutty, but its flavor intensifies the longer you keep it. In fact, the flavor is often at its peak after three month’s storage.
For more pumpkin recipes, visit hvmag.com/recipes.
Removing the rind from a hard-skin squash can be a challenge. Give yourself plenty of room to work, and be sure to cut a thin slice from the bottom or side of the squash to help it stay flat on the cutting board. Or you can opt to use frozen cubed squash instead.
This recipe is from the Culinary Institute of America Vegetables cookbook (Lebhar-Friedman, 2007), available for purchase at bookstores nationwide or at www.ciaprochef.com/fbi/books/vegetables.html.