Pumpkin: It’s Not Just For Yogurt Anymore

I mean, it never really was. But if you read the Pumpkin Yogurt Wars post a couple weeks back, you might have thought so.

Seriously though, pumpkin is kind of everywhere this year. Like, way more than I can remember in past years. Trader Joe’s new Fearless Flyer has somewhere around 50 Pumpkin Items. I should know, I bought most of them. So, remember when I said I needed someone to stage a ‘pumpkintervention’? I purchased almost every pumpkin spice flavored item I could get my hands on, and my cabinets and counter tops we’re a bevy of orange boxes. I’m a marketing director’s dream, guys. Then, guess what happened?

I got really sick of all of it. It’s terribly sad, I know. But, most of the items were too pumpkin-y, or too spicy, or too sweet, or just plain not good. I hit total pumpkin overload and just didn’t want any of it anymore. Except for one thing.

Actual pumpkin.

See, somewhere buried at the heart of this pumpkin spice lunacy, is a beautiful squash, a superfood that is low in calories (15 per 1/2 cup raw, fresh) and high in fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene. And? It’s freaking delicious!

Now, let’s talk about what to do with pumpkin!

Pumpkin can typically be found in your regular grocery store in three forms; halloween/jack o’ lantern pumpkins (don’t eat those, I don’t think they’ll kill you, but I think they would be pretty woody), whole sugar pumpkins and canned mashed pumpkin. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, one of their 50 pumpkin items is actual pumpkin, peeled, cut, cubed, raw. Unless you don’t have a local Trader Joe’s (I’m so sorry, Mer), you might want to get some of this. I’m about to explain why.

New fun fact I learned this year: Working with whole, raw pumpkin is a major pain in the ass.

My nemesis

You guys know, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I don’t shy away from food prep. I have a knife callus the size of a small country on my hand. I do NOT mind getting in there and getting my hands dirty.

All that said, if you plan to venture into the world, of cooking with raw pumpkin, get ready for a workout. The skin is tough, there is an incredible amount of slimy goop and seeds inside, and just cutting the pumpkin into chunks is hard work. And you know that smell when you carve jack o’ lanterns with the kids? Same. So, recap: lots of work, lots of smell, lots of slime.

So, why bother? Because it tastesย ahhhhh-ma-zing.

Like almost any squash, pumpkin roasted in the oven with a little oil, salt and pepper is phenomenal. I can, and did, eat it straight out of the pan. But, in case you are looking for some ways to serve pumpkin that don’t involve burning your fingers and tongue, I pulled together a few of my favorites for you.

Pumpkin Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen. This recipe called for pumpkin puree, so you could make your own, or go with canned. I used canned.

My word, these were delicious. Dense, incredibly moist, spicy but not too spicy. I could have eaten the entire batch.

Pumpkin and White Bean Soup from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. This recipe called for cut, raw pumpkin. I picked up a bag of the pre-prepped TJ’s pumpkin for this.

This was unexpectedly good. Meaning, when I heard pumpkin and white bean, I was wondering how those were going to fit together. But, in this soup, the beans aren’t pureed, and half the pumpkin is roasted chunks that go in after the puree. The result is a lovely, smooth soup with cubes of roasted pumpkin and white beans in every bite. It was awesome.

Autumn Pumpkin Mix from Women’s Health Magazine. This is another recipe that calls for cut, raw pumpkin. For this one, I cut and prepped my own.

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Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t even know what to say about this. Just, if you like delicious food, make this. The flavor combination just WORKS. Brussel sprouts, pumpkin, pistachios and goat cheese. This came from a list of lunch recipes, but would make an excellent dinner side as well.

There are a million pumpkin recipes in the world. If you know some excellent ones, please share them with me in the comments below. Pretty please. With pumpkin on top.

What do you think of this year’s pumpkin craze? What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you want recipes for other types of squash? Let’s chat!ย 

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