It’s that time of year again to go out and pick your pumpkins. A thing to remember when cooking pumpkins is that the bright orange pumpkins are strictly used for carving and decorating. Yes you can cook and eat them, but there literally is so little flavor and it takes too long to prepare, cook and serve them, it is just not worth the effort! Fortunately mother nature has provided a family of pumpkins which include more flavorful varieties. Chef Lee is here to educate us all about pumpkins and is sharing two great recipes below!
Native Americans have long used edible pumpkins for cooking in everything from breads to soups and taught the newly arrived colonists many of their culinary tricks. Pumpkins can be grilled, baked, broiled, steamed or roasted whole in hot embers as the native people once did. Not to mention they can also be used as a decorative bowl for your soup, purees or dips.
Pumpkins bred for food offer robust flavor, color and nutrition. These cucurbit family members contain dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, manganese, Vitamins E and B6, thiamin, niacin, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus! Wow, all with very little fat or calories!
The question of which are the best pumpkins to eat is a bit tricky. Why? Because the term pumpkin is a catch all word that encompasses several types of winter squash. For example, Cucurbita moschata encompasses butternut squash, but it also includes the buff colored Dickinson pumpkin, apparently “the pumpkin of choice for Libby’s canned pumpkins.” This means that the types of pumpkins for cooking are really just hard skinned squash. Take the more recently marketed Jack-Be-Little. This palm-sized specimen was introduced in 1986 and is most likely a forgotten acorn squash cultivar; it looks like a miniature pumpkin but tastes like an acorn squash. Other small pumpkins that are delicious include Baby Pam, the white Baby Boo and New England Pie.
Cheese pumpkin – The Cheese pumpkin (moschata) is a squat, pale pumpkin more often used in displays of fall produce but it makes an excellent baking vessel and can be used as a serving tureen.
Cinderella pumpkin – Cinderella pumpkin looks just like the pumpkin that transformed into Cinderella’s coach. It has thick, sweet, custard like flesh.
Jarrahdale pumpkin – Jarrahdale pumpkins hale form Jarrahdale, New Zealand and have a melon-like aroma with firm, bright orange, fairly string less flesh.
Lumina pumpkin – Lumina pumpkin is named for its ghostly white mien. It is great for baking as well as carving or painting.
Peanut pumpkin – Peanut pumpkin looks a bit like a peanut with its warty exterior but is actually a squash from France where it is called the Galeux d’Eysines. It has sweet, orange flesh perfect for soups and is an old heirloom variety.
Pie pumpkin – Pie pumpkin encompasses several pumpkin varieties grown for eating not ornamentation. They are usually smaller and denser than carving pumpkins. Red Warty is a cross between a red Hubbard squash and pie pumpkin with delicious sweet flesh. The lovely reddish hue makes it a beautiful pumpkin used as decoration although the bumpy skin makes it hard to carve.
One-Too-Many pumpkin – One-Too-Many, so named for their resemblances to the red face flush of a chronic drunk, are creamy with pale red veins that darken to a deeper red. They make great pie or can be used for carving or decoration.
And don’t forget those pumpkin seeds! They are loaded with fiber and protein. The oil from the seeds of the ‘Styrian Hulless’ pumpkin from Austria is touted for its dark, rich, flavor loaded with heart-healthy fats.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Seeds of 1 Pumpkin
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon KOSHER Salt
Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. Foil a tray or roasting pan and spray with non stick cooking spray or use some oil to coat the pan using your fingers. Wash off the seeds and remove all other particles including the little bits of pumpkin fibers. Pat dry all those seeds with paper towels. In a bowl toss the seed with oil and seasonings. Make sure all the seeds are coated and transfer seeds to your prepared baking tray. Get as much of the seasoned oil out of the bowl and onto the seeds using a spatula. Lay the seed as flat as possible trying not to over lap the seeds. Roast the seeds for 10 minutes. Remove tray and toss the seeds again on the tray. place in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove tray and let the seeds cool.
Chef Lee’s Pumpkin Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (2 ts for recipe 1ts for cooking with but you might need more for the cooking)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated Orange zest
Combine flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk together for two minutes to aerate. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, egg, milk, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix in the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. (Do not overmix.) Coat skillet with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium heat. Pour batter into skillet 1/4 cup at a time, and cook the pancakes until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Enjoy with your favorite syrup.