Fall harvest means we get to fill our table with fresh, local ingredients. And one of the most popular ingredients is, without a doubt, pumpkin . . . that orange squash that has been conquering our hearts and stomachs for as long as we can remember! In a soup, casserole, or dessert, pumpkin is a fall favourite that everyone loves.
Not only is pumpkin purée easy to make, it’s also super versatile. To make your own purée, simply place a small pumpkin on a baking sheet, pierce it in several spots, oil the exterior, and bake in a 350°F oven. Bake for one hour, then remove from the oven and let cool. Once completely cool, cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Finally, purée the flesh in a food processor. That’s it!
Marvellous mac and cheese
Pumpkin purée is a great way to elevate your mac and cheese, adding not only flavour but also full of nutrients. Start by cooking your macaroni according to package instructions. Next, heat a drizzle of oil in a pan set over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of flour and stir for one minute, until smooth and lump free. Pour in half a cup of milk and continue to cook 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Next, add the same amount of pumpkin purée, as well as one and a half cups of cheddar cheese, and a pinch of Cayenne pepper. Stir until cheese is melted, then season with salt and pepper. Toss your pasta in your sauce and voilà!
Tip: Short on time? Cook your pumpkin the microwave! Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and pierce in several spots. Place it facedown in a microwave-safe dish and cook on high for 15 minutes.
Pumpkin cubes will quickly become your go-to in the kitchen. To prepare them, cut a pumpkin in quarters and remove the seeds. Remove the skin and cut the flesh into 1-cm cubes.
There are so many versions of this fall classic out there, and what’s so great is that it can be prepared using whatever you have on hand. We suggest making a batch of your favourite chili and simply adding a handful of pumpkin cubes to the selection of veggies you usually use (celery, carrots, red peppers, etc.). Make sure to add more broth if your chili is too thick.
Tip: Pumpkin cubes are great roasted in the oven. Just drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with spices, salt, and pepper.
The flesh of the pumpkin isn’t the only thing you can eat . . . the seeds are delicious, too! Once you’ve scooped them out, pat them dry, and let them air-dry for a few hours. Next, season them with olive oil and the spices of your choice, and roast in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes or so. Enjoy as is or throw them in your favourite dishes for some added crunch!
For a salty treat, drizzle your seeds with olive oil, then toss them in a mixture of garlic powder, Cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. They’re delicious on their own or in a crisp green salad.
In the mood for something sweet? Toss your pumpkin seeds in olive oil, maple syrup, nutmeg, and cinnamon. They make a great addition to granola!
Tip: To separate the seeds from the stringy flesh, soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes then scoop them out with your hands.