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The Great Pumpkin Adventure- Beyond the PSL

IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON!!

And beyond the ever loved PSL, there are about a million things you can do with the delicious gourd.  A friend recently told me that she isn’t a huge fan, because she has only had it prepared super sweet.  She didn’t even think of the gazillion other spices she could put with it.  But trust me, if you like butternut squash, you will love pumpkin.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you begin your Great Pumpkin adventures (see what I did there!)  First, don’t use the jack-o-lantern that has been sitting on your front porch for the last several weeks.  One, it’s rotten.  Two, it’s not the right kind of pumpkin.  Three, it’ rotten.  “But we just carved it last night?”  Yeah, and about a bazillion flies and other bugs have already made it a fun little breeding and feeding ground overnight, if the squirrels didn’t get to it first.  Plus, you’ve had it for several weeks, or days, sitting in the hot, direct, daytime sunlight.  Not an ideal storage place for vegetables.  Trust me, it won’t be good.  And it’s not even the right kind to begin with.  What you want is called a pie pumpkin.  They are small-ish, cute and have a much sweeter and more tender flesh than the big guy you bought at the pumpkin patch.  You should be able to find them at your local patch or grocery store pretty easily.

“So how do I cook it?”  They are quite easy to prepare, actually.  You can either cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and roast it in a 400-degree oven for about 30-45 minutes.  Or you can prick the whole thing with a fork or paring knife and roast the whole thing, same way as above, for about an hour.  Save the seeds though!  After a quick scrub, some olive oil and sea salt, and quick toast in the oven, they make the best salad toppings and granola add-ins!  You can save the seeds from your carved pumpkin too, if you haven’t already thrown them away.

“Now what do I do with it?”  Well…whatever you want, really.  Think of it just like any other squash.  It makes a velvety creamy soup, is perfect to hide in chili and sauces for picky-kids, pancakes, French Toast, muffins, breads, cakes, pastas and even cocktails.  The sky is the limit.  Your pumpkin may yield more than you need for whatever recipe you decide, but it freeze well.

If cooking a whole pumpkin isn’t your things, no worries!  The canned stuff is delicious too.  And most brands are simply ‘just pumpkin’, so you don’t have to worry about getting a bunch of extra stuff you don’t want.  Check out this link from Food Network Magazine for 50 ideas to get you started.  And if you aren’t a big fan of cinnamon and nutmeg, you are in luck.  Because pumpkin pairs well with lots of other spices and herbs.