Recipes from the pumpkin patch

This bright orange pumpkin fruit is hugely popular the entire month of October. First, at Thanksgiving, it is served in pumpkin pie; then by the end of the month, the pumpkin  has been transformed a number of times into soups, muffins, loaves, cakes, cheesecake, ice-cream, fancy teas and coffees. However, the most spectacular use of the pumpkin is the eerie jack ‘o lantern carved and lit to brighten the pathways of trick or treat youngsters as they make their way shelling out on Hallowe’en night.

Any leftover fruit from Hallowe’en can be peeled, cooked, pureed and frozen ready for any of the following recipes. Don’t forget the pumpkin seeds, called pepitas, toasted and salted – they are delicious added to baking for colour, crunch and nutrition. Pumpkins are an excellent source of vitamin A and a versatile source of fun and flavour!

Pumpkin Soup with Croutons

An easy way to make this soothing soup is to use canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling – check the label). In fact, it’s a good idea to buy several cans of pumpkin and tuck them away for all the pumpkin recipes you may enjoy. After Hallowe’en, it is more difficult to find this commodity.

  • ¼ cup (50 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped onions
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 can (28 oz/ 796 mL) pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups (500 mL) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) each, salt and curry powder
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) fresh black pepper and ground nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (370 mL) evaporated milk
  • croutons for garnish

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Cook onions, leeks and garlic until softened about 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent burning. Stir in pumpkin puree, chicken stock, salt, curry, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 20 minutes. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. Discard bay leaf. Just before serving, stir in evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk) and garnish each serving with a scattering of croutons. Makes about 6 cups (1.5 L)

Double Pumpkin Bread

This spicy bread stays moist  for several days but for longer storage wrap in plastic wrap; overwrap in foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Serve with soup and salad, tuck into lunches or use for a quick breakfast; it also makes a tasty snack.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) each vegetable oil and milk
  • 2 ¼ cups (550 mL) all purpose flour
  • 1/ 4 cup (950 mL) toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange rind
  • 1 ½ tsp (7 ml) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) each baking soda, salt
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) each, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  • Topping: 2 tbsp (25 ml) toasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F( 180°C). Line nine-inch loaf pan with parchment paper; spray with baking spray. In mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, oil and milk. In separate bowl, stir together flour, pumpkin seeds, orange rind, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture just until moistened; spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining pumpkin seeds evenly over top of loaf. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let the flavours ripen a day before slicing and serving. Makes about 12-15 slices.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, make a crunchy snack and delicious addition to salads, muffins and loaves. If you a carving a jack’o lantern, be sure to wash and save the seeds from the pumpkin.

  • 2 cups (500 mL) clean pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt

Preheat oven to 375°F( 190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In small bowl, stir together clean pumpkin seeds, oil and salt. Arrange seeds on baking sheet in single layer and bake 10 -15 minutes or until a golden brown. Cool and store in plastic containers. Makes 2 cups (500 mL)

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer –

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