By Cassandra Oliveras
This is my favorite time of year. Sure, the leaves are nice, the brisk air fab, but the reason that I live for the fall is that pumpkin abounds. Gracious gourd help me, but if I’m out late and the clock strikes twelve, there are worse things that I can think of being turned into.
The great news for those of you fellow pumpkin heads out there is that this seasonal staple is a super food. High in fiber, Vitamins A, B complex and C, it is also rich with essential fatty acids. One cup of mashed pumpkin contains approximately 50 calories, and can be very filling. Native Americans recognized pumpkin for its nutritional and healing properties long before we showed up on Plymouth Rock. Little known medicinal uses includes:
· Crushed leaves for superficial burns and healing warts
· Slightly broiled flowers applied to the ears for ear infection
· Pulp of the fruit for Arthritis, urinary problems
· Husked seeds aid in digestion, stomachache and gas problems
· Unripe seeds to control nausea, vomiting and morning sickness in pregnant women
· Roasted ripe seeds for infection of the prostate gland or prostatis
Both economical and multi-faceted, nearly every part of the pumpkin can be used including blossoms, flesh and seeds (“pepitas”). Most pumpkin varieties will store for up to three months under cool conditions.
If in October pumpkins were for décor, November will be your month to let them shine on the dinner plate. Go ahead and substitute this for your typical starchy side dishes, and make your morning pancakes sing. Here are some quick and easy recipes to get you started:
SPICED PUMPKIN PANCAKES (from epicurious.com)
Yield: Makes about 12
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches. Serve with syrup.
LAZY EVENING PUMPKIN SOUP (from allaboutpumpkins.com)
1 cup cream
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup pumpkin, cooked and mashed
1-1/2 tbsp melted butter
1-1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
Combine milk, onions and bay leaf in saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil. Strain, then combine strained ingredients with chicken broth and mashed pumpkin (save the milk). In a separate pan, make a roux by combining the butter and flour and cooking over low heat for 5 minutes. Add milk mixture to roux slowly and whisk until the soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes to bring out the flavors.
Garnish with pomegranate seeds, parsley, and cream.
PUMPKIN FRITTERS (from allrecipes.com)
Prep Time: 5 min/ Cook Time: 10 min / Ready in: 15 min
Original Recipe Yield 24 fritters
· 1 cup pumpkin puree
· 1 egg, lightly beaten
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 teaspoon baking powder
· 1 teaspoon curry powder
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
1. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, flour, baking powder, curry powder, and salt. Mix until smooth.
2. Heat oil in a deep saucepan to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and serve immediately.