When it comes to your Halloween pumpkin, there's so much waste. Once you've removed the top, the seeds are generally tossed, and now that Halloween is over, the entire thing goes in the trash or compost.
But what would you say if you were told that the entire thing, from the orange skin to the orange flesh and seeds, were edible? The only thing to throw away is the slimy, stringy pulp inside.
If you live by the mantra, "waste not, want not," you may find your pumpkin gives you more than you thought possible.
To get started, remove the seeds. That sounds easier said than done, but there's a simple way to do it. Take the seeds, pulp and all, and drop them in a pan of simmering water. Any loose seeds will float to the top. Remove from heat and when it's cool enough, use your fingers to gently separate the rest of the pumpkin seeds from the pulp. It's fine if you don't get all the pulp off the seeds. Once they are roasted, the stringy fibers will slough off easily.
Now that the seeds are removed, it's time to start thinking about all things pumpkin, from chips to pies to pudding. It's the flesh and skin we're after.
The skin can be salted and roasted for pumpkin chips — something really different, right?
To remove the skin, you'll need a sharp knife. Cut the pumpkin into quarters, then into eighths. Then start cutting the skin away from the flesh as closely as possible. Then cut the skin into chip-size pieces. These are delicious tossed with olive oil, roasted in a 400-degree oven and dusted liberally with salt. The skins of winter squashes, such as butternut, are also excellent when prepared using this method.
Once the skin has been removed, you should have clean flesh that needs to be cooked to soften and mash for pies and other dishes.
To cook pumpkin, cut the flesh into chunks, toss them with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until it's tender when pierced. Mash the cooked pumpkin to make a puree consistency and use it to make wonderful dishes that go beyond pumpkin pie.
Creamy Pumpkin Dip
12 ounces cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
2 cups whipped topping
Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin and spices. Gently fold in whipped topping. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with sliced apples and graham crackers for a fun dessert or a sweet appetizer to serve alongside savory dips.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 (4-pound) sugar pie pumpkins
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 large or 6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk or heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Carefully halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and save them for roasting and snacking.
Slice each pumpkin in half, then in half again to make quarters. Brush or rub 1 tablespoon olive oil over the flesh of the pumpkin and place the quarters, cut sides down, onto the baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes or longer, until the orange flesh is easily pierced through with a fork. Set it aside to cool for a few minutes.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add onion, garlic and salt to the skillet. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. In the meantime, peel the pumpkin skin off the pumpkins and discard the skin.
Add the pumpkin flesh, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper and a dash or two of freshly ground black pepper. Use a spoon to break up the pumpkin a bit. Pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, giving the flavors time to marry.
While the soup is cooking, toast the pepitas in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, golden and making little popping noises. You want them to be nice and toasty, but not burned. Transfer pepitas to a bowl to cool.
Once the pumpkin mixture is finished cooking, stir in the coconut milk and maple syrup. Remove the soup from heat and let it cool slightly. You can use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot. but a hand mixer yields the creamiest results. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, securely fasten the blender's lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you purée the mixture until smooth. Transfer the puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with the remaining batches.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle pepitas over the soup and serve.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Cut open the pumpkin by cutting a circle around the stem end with a sharp knife and remove the top.
Use a strong metal spoon to scrape the insides of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strings.
Place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from the fibrous tissue.
Boil pumpkin seeds in salted water for 10 minutes.
Measure the pumpkin seeds in a measuring cup. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier.
Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with olive oil, about a teaspoon or so.
Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer, and toss them a bit to coat them with the oil on the pan.
Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds.
Small pumpkin seeds may toast in around 5 minutes or so, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don't get over toasted. When lightly browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. Let the seeds cool all the way down before eating. Either crack them open and eat the inner seed or eat them as is.
Pumpkin Skin Chips
1 small to medium pumpkin
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin from the pumpkin, then slice the skin into strips or smaller bite-sized pieces. Give them a generous coating of olive oil and toss to make sure they are coated properly.
Roast skins for 30 minutes then dust them liberally with salt. Let cool and they're ready to eat.
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