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Beyond Pie



— September 29, 2017

Beyond Pie

  • Pumpkin may be the star of everyone's favorite fall dessert, but don't discount its overall versatility.
Beyond Pie

Pumpkin may be the star of everyone’s favorite fall dessert, but don’t discount its overall versatility.

Now that fall is here, are you dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes?

Hot beverages are only one aspect of the nation’s pumpkin frenzy. “These days there isn’t a pumpkin-flavored product US consumers aren’t willing to try,” says the polling company A.C. Nielsen, which cites—in addition to pie filling, of course—yogurt, dog food and milk among its top 10 pumpkin products in terms of sales.

The Kitchen Pumpkin Patch

One reason cooks love pumpkin is there are so many things you can do with it. The orange squash “shows up in appetizers, soups, bread, desserts, salads and savories of all kinds,” writes caterer DeeDee Stovel in The Pumpkin Cookbook (Storey). Stovel uses pumpkins in recipes ranging from Pumpkin Pizza to Mexican Pumpkin Lasagna. Plain canned pumpkin (not the pie filling, which is sweetened) is a time-saver for many recipes. But if you’re cooking from scratch, the small sugar pumpkins are fairly easy to handle. Stovel suggests washing them, cutting them in half with a large knife and simply removing the stem, seeds, and fibers before cooking. If you’re going to tackle one of the big boys, however, Stovel offers the following advice: • Place a damp paper towel under a sturdy cutting board to keep the board in place. • Take a small slice off the bottom of the pumpkin to enhance stability. • Cut from the top to the bottom, wiggling the knife as you go. • Remove the seeds and fibers, then lay the cut sides on the board for additional cutting. If at all possible, peel your pumpkin after it’s cooked (it’s done when a fork easily goes through). If you need to peel it raw, Stovel suggests placing the cut side down on the board and using a sharp paring knife to cut the skin towards the bottom and away from you.

Measuring Rules of Thumb According to DeeDee Stovel:

1 pound of fresh pumpkin = 2 cups of peeled, cooked = 2 cups cubed = 3-4 cups grated


Pumpkin is just as valued for its seeds (also known as pepitas) as for its flesh. Pumpkin seeds provide zinc, different types of vitamin E and healthful fatty acids. In addition, they are a good source of vegetable protein. You can boost the protein content of muffins and other baked goods by using powder made from these little nutritional powerhouses. Look for an organic vegan product free of allergens, GMOs, and soy, such as Organic Pumpkin Seed Protein from Nature’s Plus.

Preparation Tips

Roasting—cut into quarters, rub inside and out with oil, place in oiled pan (cut side down with sprigs of fresh herbs) and into a preheated 400° oven for about 45 minutes. (Small pumpkins can be turned into serving dishes by baking them whole at 350° for 30 minutes, then cut off the top about 2 inches from the stem before deseeding.) Steaming/Boiling—place the pieces into either salted boiling water or a steamer basket; boil for 15-20 minutes, steam for 20- 30. (You can then puree using a potato masher, ricer or food processor.) Grilling—toss peeled 1-inch chunks with oil and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Microwaving—for small amounts, place chunks in a microwave-safe dish, add 1 tablespoon water and cook on high for 5 minutes.

Chicken-Pumpkin Tacos

Filling 1 tbsp canola oil 1 onion, thinly sliced 1 1 /2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped 1 lb fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, peeled, diced (about 2 cups) 1 /4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin 1 /2 cup canned tomatoes and juice 2 tsp chili powder 1 tsp ground cumin Dash hot sauce 1 tsp salt 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro 6 8″ flour tortillas or corn taco shells (Makes 6 tacos) Toppings 1 /2 cup plain yogurt 1 /4 cup sour cream 1 1 /2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped 3 cups shredded lettuce 1 1 /2 cups salsa 1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook for 3 minutes, or until wilted. Add chicken and peppers; cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in fresh and canned pumpkin, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, and salt. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is tender and no longer pink, pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork and sauce thickens, 10-15 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred and return to the pan. Stir in lime juice and cilantro; let the mixture sit while you heat the tortillas. 2. On a griddle or large skillet over medium heat, warm tortillas for 1 minute on each side. Place one on each of six plates; divide the filling among them. 3. Combine the yogurt and sour cream in a small bowl. Top each taco with the yogurt mixture, cheese, avocado, lettuce, and salsa. Fold the tacos as you eat them.




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