Like many American children, I grew up with Charles Schultzâ€™s tale of Linus in the pumpkin patch.Â Those of us who grew up on small or large farms knew the pumpkin patch in real life â€“ watching its vines grow and curl.
Pumpkins are wonderful to eat as well as make into decorations. They are in the squash family and chock-full of vitamins and nutrients. Pumpkin is very low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in dietary fiber. The pumpkinâ€™s dark orange color is from a richness of a mineral called beta carotene; this is important to help the body use vitamin A.
Ripe pumpkins can be cooked in such a variety of ways, but did you know that the ones that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as zucchini? Try it – you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise!
Fried Green Pumpkin
1 small greenÂ pumpkin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cup butter
Cut pumpkin in half; remove seeds, pith and outer skin. Cut into 2×3 inch pieces.
Place 1/2 of pumpkin (2 to 3 pounds) in large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add flour and stir to evenly coat.
Melt butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin and cook, turning often until golden brown and tender. Serve alone, or with noodles or rice (or however you’d serve zucchini).
Roasted Pumpkin â€“this recipe saves the injury risk of cutting while peeling.
1 (2-3 pound) sugar pie pumpkin (one for Halloween jack o’ lanterns works best)
Turn on oven to 400ËšF. Wash pumpkin well, especially the blossom and stem ends. Rub skin lightly with olive oil. Just in case, put a baking sheet on the lower rack below the pumpkin to catch any juice that might squeeze out, then put the pumpkin directly on the rack above – no need to wait for the oven to preheat. Roast for 60 – 90 minutes. The actual time will vary based on the oven’s actual temperature, the moistness of the pumpkin, the variety of pumpkin. But it’s done when a knife slips into the flesh like butter. Let it cool a bit before slicing open – and even then, be careful when slicing open for the steam will rush out and could definitely burn.
Ravioli Pasta Dough
1 1/2 cups semolina flour, finest grind
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place the flours in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the salt, eggs, and olive oil. Process until the dough begins to mass on the blade (about 1-2 minutes). Remove the dough from the processor and press it into a ball. Wrap in plastic and let rest at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before rolling and cutting. (Rolling the dough by hand is extremely tedious; with a small pasta machine and cutting attachment, or a cutting plate made especially for ravioli, you will save time and produce a much more uniform product.)
Notes: The pasta can be made by hand or in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. For each of these methods, mix the dry ingredients together first, make a well in the center, add the wet ingredients and mix them together slowly until everything is combined well. Wrap in plastic.
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups roasted pumpkin
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 eggs, beaten
Freshly ground white pepper
Regular Pasta Dough (recipe follows)
1 egg, beaten lightly, for egg wash
2 cups chicken stock
2 shallots, chopped
Heat a sautÃ© pan over low heat and add 4 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter is foamy, add the roasted pumpkin, stirring often to stop it from sticking and burning, until butter and pumpkin blend. Turn the pumpkin into a saucepan, add 1/2 of the cream and half the herbs and cook over low heat for approximately 1 hour, or until the puree is thick and the liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from the heat and beat in an additional 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the beaten eggs, season, to taste, with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Making the Ravioli:
On a floured surface, roll out the pasta as thinly as possible.Â Cut into 2 sheets and brush 1 of them with egg wash. Using a teaspoon, place 24 equal mounds of the pumpkin puree on the egg-washed dough, about 2 inches apart. Cover the mounded dough with the second sheet of pasta and press around the mounds of pumpkin to seal the dough. (To make this process simpler, use a ravioli cutting plate.)
Using a ravioli cutter or a sharp knife, cut the ravioli. Dust a tray with semolina and place the ravioli on it.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the ravioli to the rapidly boiling water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Add the cooked ravioli to your favorite the sauce and bring just to a boil. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.
Divide the ravioli among preheated soup dishes and spoon the sauce over them.Â Serve immediately.
Note:Â A simple but delicious sauce can be made from fresh unsalted butter, minced fresh sage, and a little freshly grated Parmesan.
All of the above recipes bring out different flavors of the pumpkin.Â Throughout the world, pumpkins are eaten in savory side dishes and custard desserts. Even the leaves and blooms are used in soups and as a garnish. Enjoy these wonderful recipes and explore other cultures to serve to great pumpkin to your family.