Monday, October 13, 2008
Posted by Mike of Mike's Table
When I was a child, I had an unexplainaible but strong aversion to pumpkin. All it was good for was making jack o'lanterns on Halloween, period. How could anyone possibly eat these things--they're not food! The pulp was merely a nuissance that slowed down carving a face on the pumpkin and the seeds were just garbage.
As with many things, I've come to realize how very wrong I was. First off, pumpkins are obviously food--very good food, as a matter of fact. They're another gourd-like type of squash which, like tomatoes, are one of those things you'd never think to call a "fruit." They can come in all shapes and sizes, whether it be a tiny one pounder or obsenely large 1,000+ lb beasts. There are more varieties than I can count, but as far as your kitchen is concerned, you generally want the smaller varieties (e.g. called "sugar pumpkin," "pie pumpkin," etc.) rather than the giants you carve faces in as there is a big difference in flavor (namely a lack of it in the bigger ones--trust me, I've tried). As for health benefits, the orange color ought to give this one away: they're loaded with lutein, alpha, and beta carotene, which means vitamin A to you and I. And the seeds that I maligned as a child are a great source of protein, zinc, and other vitamins.
Pumpkin factoids aside though, the real issue is how did I ever spend all those years blowing off a sweet slice of pumpkin pie? Why was I going for peanuts and sunflower seeds when I could have opted for toasted, spiced pumpkin seeds? I'm definitely making up for lost time this season. Every week now, I leave the grocery store with a few pumpkins so I can break them down and make pumpkin puree so I have it handy throughout the week (yes, you can always buy canned, but I personally think has a tinny taste, and really, making it fresh is very easy to do and requires very little of your time in the kitchen. You can make a lot, bag it up, and freeze it, too, taking it out as you need it).
Of course, there's a lot more to enjoying pumpkins than the traditional pumpkin pie and toasted seeds. You could make muffins, rice pudding style risottos, cookies, macarons, ice cream, or donut holes. Armed with pumpkin puree, the only real limit to pumpkin-based sweets is your imagination. Of course, you aren't limited to sweets, either. You could try a loaf of bread, savory pumpkin pie, pumpkin wild rice soup, pumpkin gnocchi, or even try your hand at Afghani cuisine and make kaddo bourani. Its surprisingly versatile and I certainly will have a lot of new pumpkin-centric recipes to share this season, both sweet and savory.
How do you enjoy this autumn fruit?
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This Post was written by Mike from Mike's Table