Pumpkins are a type of squash in the same family as gourds, melons and cucumbers. Closer relatives are known winter squash, such as acorn, butternut, and Hubbard squash. They are very good sources of fiber, vitamin A and beta-carotene.
When selecting a pumpkin look for smaller sizes, no more than four to 5 pounds, these will be sweeter. Select pumpkins that feel heavy for their size and have no blemishes. Pumpkins may be stored approximately (2) months in the refrigerator.
You may cook pumpkins in the same manner you cook other squash. Be sure to scoop out the seeds and fibrous strings before cooking, then bake roast or steam. The cooked product can then be made into purees for ravioli, soups and pies to name just a few uses. Cutting the pumpkin into chunks( removing the skin) you may fry, roast, saute or simmer in stews. For a treat, try roasting the seeds for nutritious snacks or garnish.
Healthy Highlight Note:
Canned pumpkin puree is just as nutritious as fresh pumpkin, and can be used in the following recipes however, canned pumpkin has 100 more calories per cup.
Pumpkin Pie: Serves eight
One 9" deep pie shell ( Unbaked ) and put in freezer a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes prior to baking.
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (Solid Pack) Not pumpkin pie filling.
Preheat oven to 450
Place heavy cream and milk in saucepan over moderate heat, until bubbles appear around the edges. Do Not Boil.
Meanwhile - in a large bowl with a wire whisk or an electric mixer - beat eggs lightly, adding vanilla, sugar, salt and spices. Add the pumpkin and mix slowly with a wooden spoon, gradually stir in hot mixture. Pour pumpkin mixture into unbaked pie crust. Place in the middle of oven and bake for 10 minutes @ 450 - then reduce heat to 350 and bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Pie will be finished when a small knife inserted in the middle of the pie comes out clean.
Let cool - allow to set - Serve at room temperature.
Pumpkin cheesecake: Serves 10
Crust : One 3/4 cup gingersnap crumbs
½ cup chopped walnuts
6 - 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Combine gingersnap crumbs, nuts and butter. Mix well. Press mixture firmly into bottom of a lightly buttered 10" springform pan. Wrap the bottom and the sides of the pan with aluminum foil.
1 1/4 cup cream cheese @ room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
5 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350
Put cream cheese into large bowl and using electric mixer beat until smooth. Add sugar and spices and beat another 5 - 6 minutes until light and creamy. Slowly beat in pumpkin puree, then eggs one at a time. Beat in the cream. Pour mixture into prepared pan - place the pan into a water bath (place pan in roasting pan and add enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the pan.) Bake for approximately 60 minutes until cheesecake is lightly puffed yet firm. To test insert a wooden skewer into center, it should come out only slightly wet.
Allow to cool then refrigerate at least 3 hours before slicing. (Overnight is best) Will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400
Cut a 1 pound pumpkin into fairly large chunks about 2 inch size, remove skin. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place in baking sheet - spread out evenly. Bake for approximately 45 minutes shaking pan periodically until pumpkin starts to caramelize.
When cooked, pumpkin may be served immediately or toss with 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbls. Fresh mint chopped
3 thinly sliced roasted garlic cloves
2 tbls. Red wine vinegar
2 tbls honey
This can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.