Fall has arrived and as always is so beautiful with all the vibrant colors on the trees. It’s the perfect time of year for a long drive in the Northeast. And of course pumpkins are in their prime and ready for carving, decorating and eating!
When we think of eating pumpkins, pies, breads, muffins and all sorts of sweet goodies come to mind, but occasionally I like to go to the savory side so I can enjoy them for dinner or as a soup for a nice fall lunch. Though canned pumpkin is usually used for pumpkin desserts and soups year-round, fresh cooked pumpkin can be pureed and used in any recipe calling for pumpkin. Smaller pumpkins, like sugar pumpkins, are best for cooking, yielding sweeter and more tender flesh than the very large pumpkins. A 5-pound pumpkin will yield about 4 1/2 cups of mashed, cooked pumpkin.
To prep your pumpkin for cooking, cut it in half using a serrated knife. Remove the seeds, pulp and stringy portion. Cut into pieces and peel. Then either steam, boil or roast depending on what your recipe calls for. Cooked pumpkin can also be frozen for up to several months. You can save the seeds for roasting and eat as a snack.
Here are several unusual recipes that you may not have seen before. Enjoy.
Pumpkin Rarebit Soup
4 cups of cooked pumpkin
1 cup of chicken stock or water
1-1/2 cups of light beer or ale
1 cup of chopped onion
2 Tbs. of butter
¾-1 tsp. of salt
2-3 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 packed cup of grated cheddar cheese
Chopped toasted walnuts & croutons for garnish
Using a blender (or stick immersion blender) or food processor, puree the pumpkin in the stock. Pour into a heavy saucepan and add the beer or ale. Heat to just boiling and then partially cover and simmer.
While that is simmering, melt the butter in a sauté pan and sauté the onions, garlic and salt on low heat, until the onions are very soft and almost brown. Add the onions, remaining seasonings and cheese to the puree and continue to simmer 20-30 minutes. Portion into bowls and serve garnished with the walnuts and croutons. Serves 4.
2-2 1/2 lb. pumpkin cleaned and cut into cubes
1/4 cup of flour
1/3 cup of olive oil
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbs. of chopped fresh parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
Toss the pumpkin cubes in the flour until evenly coated. Generously oil the bottom of a casserole dish and fill it with the pumpkin. Scatter the chopped garlic and parsley over it. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the remaining olive oil over the top. Bake for 2-2 1/2 hours or until the top has formed a rich dark crust. Serves 4.
Pork and Pumpkin Stew
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
2 lbs. of boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
14-16 ounce can of tomatoes, including the juice
1 1/2 cups of water
1 lb. of turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups of chopped turnip greens or kale
2 lb. pumpkin prepped and cut into 1-inch pieces
In a heavy kettle heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Pat the pork dry and brown in batches, transferring to a bowl as it is browned. Add the onions and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are golden. Stir in the garlic. Add the tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up, the water and the pork with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Bring the mixture to a boil, and braise the stew, covered, in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour. Stir in the turnips and braise covered for another 20 minutes. Stir in the greens and the pumpkin and braise for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve it over the rice.