Blog Appetit yields it's love of orange winter squash to no one and I have very happily served pumpkin dishes for dinner at Halloween since I graduated college and from a hot plate to a real stove.
Here is a kind of pumpkin boot camp, complete with recipes to help you prepare for your Halloween feast.
- How to choose, prep and cook pumpkin. Plus recipes for a pumpkin turkey chili and low-fat pumpkin tartlets. Also hints for ways to use up left over pumpkin. The tartlets can be made as custards for even fewer calories, or plop the filling into a regular pie crust for a full-size, low-fat, high-taste pumpkin pie.
- Winter Vegetable Saute for over pasta, potatoes, polenta , etc.
- This recipe for Butternut Squash Soup would work well with a cooking pumpkin (such as sugar baby). The post comes with a bonus since it was based on leftovers, you get the recipe for squash and braised greens as well as the soup.
- Don't choose a big field or jack-o-lantern pumpkin for cooking, the flesh is too watery. See the post on the first link above for what to buy and how to choose.
- If I am starting with cooked pumpkin, I prefer to bake my pumpkin and then scoop the flesh away from the peel. It concentrates the squash's flavor and makes peeling it a much easier job.
- If you need or chose to use canned pumpkin puree, start with the kind that is NOT labled pumpkin pie filling. That type is already spiced to the manufacturer's taste not yours.
- Be careful whacking into any hard winter squash with a sharp object. Make sure the squash is stablized on your cutting board (slice a bit from the bottom or side if need to be to help it stay in place) and make sure you are focused and your cutting board is placed on a solid enough surface. I use my heaviest Chinese cleaver, but a strong, full-size chef's knife would work well. Focus on where you want to cleave the squash, take a few practice swings, raise your arm up high, check your fingers and children are safe and then, bam! If the knife doesn't go all the way through, don't worry. With the knife still "engaged" in the body of the squash, whack the knife and pumpkin down on the cutting board a time or two and the vegetable should split cleanly in half. More prep info is in that first link.
Please add your own pumpkin tips, tricks, treats and links in the comments below.