Picking Pumpkin

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

What do you think of when you hear the word “pumpkin”? For me, it’s either “pie” or “jack-o-lantern.”

Jack-o-LanternsImage: Lola’s Curmudgeonly Musings

But many would answer “Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.”  The autumnal beverage has rabid fans, as evidenced by the public reaction when the company recently ran short of the spicy-sweet syrup needed to make their signature drink.

cup of pumpkinImage: Mashable Business

I have to admit, I have never had one; it just doesn’t appeal to me. Neither do the dozens of other “pumpkin spice” products that crop up this time of year, everything from Pop-Tarts to Hershey Kisses. In fact, there is a bit of a backlash happening against this fake-flavour fervour. A recent Guardian UK article urged Britons to resist “the US pumpkin invasion.”

collection of gourdsImage: Tracey Eckersley

While I agree that artificial pumpkin should be avoided (as should most artificial flavours), I disagree with the author when she denounces pumpkins themselves as “tasteless and watery.” When prepared properly, this type of squash can be quite yummy.

braised pork with pumpkinBraised Pork Ribs with Pumpkin; Image: Christine’s Recipes

Pumpkin has been delegated to dessert in America but, like other types of squash, it also suits savoury dishes. It pairs beautifully with pork or chicken but is hearty enough on its own to make a satisfying vegetarian soup or stew. The mild flesh can be bland, so feel free to play with spices like ginger, curry, and chili.

Curried pumpkin stewCurried Pumpkin Stew; Image: Guilty Kitchen

As much as I love a good spaghetti Bolognese, my favourite fall pasta is pumpkin ravioli with a sage and brown butter sauce;  it manages to be rich and decadent while still light and delicate.

Pumpkin ravioliPumpkin Ravioli; Image: Culinary Masterclass

The biggest problem with fresh pumpkin, besides trying to find it beyond the few weeks around Halloween, is the messy preparation. For many, scooping out the “guts” is enough to turn them off this vegetable for life. If this doesn’t gross you out, The Pioneer Woman has a wonderful tutorial on making pumpkin puree.

roast pumpkin via Pioneer WomanImage: The Pioneer Woman

Thankfully, for squeamish people like me, there is canned pumpkin. Low in calories and fat, this high-fiber puree makes an excellent substitute for butter or oil in baking recipes, so go nuts with pumpkin breads, scones, and brownies all year long! Just make sure to buy canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which has sweeteners and spices added.

pumpkin pull apart breadPumpkin Pull-Apart Bread; Image: love.life.eat

As for pumpkin pie, I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of it either. I find the texture to be a bad mixture of grainy and mushy. The solution? Add something creamy.

pumpkin cheesecakeDouble Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake; Image: Ask Chefs

I think a pumpkin cheesecake might grace my Thanksgiving table this year, or maybe pecan pie with pumpkin frozen yogurt.

pumpkin frozen yogurt

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One Response to Picking Pumpkin

  1. Jamie says:

    Mmmmmm, pumpkins!!

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