Pumpkin, Not Just a Pretty Face.

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No one really knows where the pumpkin came from. What we do know, is the pumpkin has been around for centuries and has become part of many American traditions. Everyone loves to carve and decorate their own personal pumpkins at Halloween. Many people roast and salt the seeds for a healthy, tasty snack. For Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie is the most important dish besides the turkey of course. After serving 1200 people this past Thanksgiving, I can personally tell you that 80 percent of our guests chose pumpkin pie as their dessert. That’s a lot of pie.

While pumpkins and ornamental gourds make pretty decorations for our homes, let’s not forget to put them to good use in our kitchens as well. In the eyes of a professional chef, the ingredients pumpkin and squash are often used interchangeably. Whenever I have trouble finding pumpkin at the grocery store, I simply pick up a winter squash such as butternut or acorn and it substitutes perfectly.

Pumpkins and their seeds are also a great source of protein for the dietary conscious, and many in the medical community consider the pumpkin as a super food to help fight against diseases like cancer and diabetes. When people ask me what they can do with their pumpkin I start to feel like Bubba Gump. “… There’s pumpkin risotto, pumpkin flan, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin candy, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins…” I could go on for days.

Let me sum things up, by giving you a couple simple and delicious recipes that will allow you to use the pumpkin in ways you may have never considered.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

1 Cup of Seeds

1 Cup of Sugar

½ Cup of Water

½ T of cinnamon

Pinch of Cayenne

Pinch of Salt

Method: Boil everything except seeds till golden. Stir occasionally this should take about 7 to 10 minutes. Look for an amber gold color. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin seeds. Pour mixture onto a buttered sheet tray or silpat.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

2 cups of peeled, seeded and chopped pumpkin (any size chop)

8 cups of liquid (chicken stock, vegetable stock or water)

½ cup of heavy cream

1 T of curry powder

¼ cup of chopped onion

4 T of butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method: Melt butter and sweat onion and curry powder. Add pumpkin and stir 2 minutes. Next cover with liquid and boil till tender. Purree in blender with all remaining liquid. Add cream and season to taste. Thin with water if the soup is too thick.