It’s officially fall. Have you had any pumpkin yet?

It’s that time of year. Pumpkin is making its way into lattes, muffins, and more.

But it doesn’t appear on plates often enough as, well, just pumpkin.

Like most deep-orange veggies, pumpkin is rich in vitamin A from carotenoids. Each half cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin has more than a day’s worth. And it comes with a decent dose of potassium and fiber…all for only 25 calories.

Here’s what to do with fresh pumpkin.

Look for sugar pumpkins, which are smaller and more flavorful than their jack-o-lantern cousins. Cut off the top and bottom ends, then cut in half. Remove the seeds—you can toast them later—and the pulp. (An ice cream scoop works well.)

Cut the pumpkin into slices, or peel and cut into chunks. Then toss with olive oil and season with ground cumin, coriander, or cinnamon. Roast in an oven at 425º F until tender and browned in spots—about 25-35 minutes.

Eat the slices like you would slices of cantaloupe. You can serve the chunks as is, or mash like potatoes. Add a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans if you like.

Got leftovers? Turn them into a creamy soup by puréeing with cara­melized onions and vegetable stock.

Or start with pumpkin purée.

If you want to cook with pumpkin when there are none in the store, or you need less than an entire pumpkin, or you just don’t feel like peeling, seeding, chopping, and cooking…there’s an easier way: purée.

Brands like Farmer’s Market and Pacific sell pumpkin purée in shelf-stable cartons. Look for them at a health food store or in the “natural foods” section of your supermarket.

The ingredient list: pumpkin. Period.

Try adding the purée to your pasta sauces, curries, risottos, or oatmeal.

Photos: FomaA/fotolia.com (top), Paige Einstein/CSPI (bottom).

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12 Replies to “It’s officially fall. Have you had any pumpkin yet?”

  1. Here’s how I enjoy pumpkin:
    Cut a small pumpkin in half. Scrape out the seeds. Make your favourite meatloaf recipe using 1/4 lb. ground meat or chicken. Or, to 1/4 lb. ground meat add 1 small grated zucchini, 1 grated carrot, 1/2 a small onion chopped and half a stalk of celery chopped. Add 1/2 tsp. Montreal steak spice and 1 egg. Mix until well combined. Stuff each half pumpkin with half the mixture. Place in a microwaveable dish and cook in microwave on high until pumpkin is fork tender. Serves 2. The recipe can be doubled for 4 servings and a larger pumpkin, each half cut in half after it’s cooked.

  2. Just a note – some of the shelf-stable containers of pumpkin do not freeze well at all. It turns into cardboard!

  3. When there is no fresh pumpkin I use the canned, organic. My favorite recipe is Pumpkin Streussel Bread. People who swear they hate pumpkin love this bread. I always have a little leftover from the can, but I just throw it into a breakfast smoothie with various fruit. Nothing goes to waste.

  4. I use an old Paul Bocuse recipe. Cut the top off and clean out the inside. Take slices of bread, crust removed, and layer the slices with layers of shredded Gruyere cheese, ending with the cheese. Add some nutmeg and milk. You could use half and half. Place the lid back on the pumpkin, place on a baking pan, and bake at 325 degrees until the pumpkin is soft. Time varies with the size of the pumpkin. You can even eat the skin. It makes for a lovely presentation and cuts like a cake.

  5. Living a short bike ride from Syracuse University, and many houses rented by students who decorate their front porches with fresh pumpkins, many of them intact, uncarved, I hope to recycle some of these uncarved pumpkins when they are put on the curb for weekly trash pickup, as I did
    previous Halloweens, and harvest their seeds and for baking.

  6. We grow our own pumpkins (you obviously have to plan ahead for that option, but file it away for next spring). The variety we like best is Howden – delicious and high yield.

  7. If you want to cook pumpkin for use later just put halves in a shallow pan with a little water and bake at 400 till soft. The skin comes right off or use a spoon to scoop the pulp into 2 cup portions and freeze them for pie, loaf , miuffins. You can puree if you like before rreezing but I like texture. I even make pie without crust, a.k.a. custard.

  8. I like to line my colander with coffee filters, set it over a bowl and fill with the pumpkin puree I just created. This allows the excess liquid to drain, leaving solid puree for richer pies and cakes.

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