Sometimes, as a food blogger, you just have to suck it up and take a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach. Today, that approach has me bringing you some pumpkin recipes. I know….I know….but you always hurt the ones you love, right? I mean, who am I to buck tradition? Who am I to bring the reader what he or she really wants?
I promise not to send you any invites to play Candy Crush Saga though…..
And if I am going to torture you with more pumpkin recipes, I might as well enrich your mind while I’m at it…
“Pumpkins” are just some of the squashes in a long list of winter squashes that are native to North America. Pumpkin is packed with nutrients such as beta carotene, and are a good source for inexpensive, high fiber nutrition. Additionally, they are a popular choice among vegetarians, as they make a hearty meal, even without the meat. I’m not saying I could give up the meat for them…but I’m just sayin’.
The most common is the Cucurbita pepo—the round, smooth-skinned variety with yellow flesh that is most commonly carved as a jack-o-lantern on Halloween. As pumpkins go, it’s also very inexpensive. But my favorite is the Fairytale Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). It is a large, slightly squat pumpkin, with very thick, dark orange flesh. The skin is a beautiful mahogany color, and they really do look like they came right out of a fairy tale. I like them because they yield so much more meat than the others. Naturally, they are quite a bit more expensive, but the beauty as an ornamental and the yield as a cooking pumpkin make the additional price well worth it.
In my house, pumpkin is normally just used for pie, and jack-o-lanterns. Although some of my favorite savory dishes are pumpkin-centric (pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin ravioli), I rarely get to cook with it myself. It’s hard being the only “person of taste” in a home full of redneck boys.
Since Halloween is over, you can either choose to cook your uncut pumpkins, or you can let the neighborhood kids smash them while you sleep. So, I waited until they were all out of the house for the day—hunting season is good for that— and I had myself a whole pumpkin appreciation day.
By the way, you may substitute any cooking pumpkin, or other winter squash such as acorn or butternut in this recipe.
Pumpkin Pepper Bisque serves 8
- 1 medium pumpkin (4-6 pounds)
- 3 sweet yellow peppers
- 1 large fresh jalapeno
- 1 fresh Fresno chili
- 3 ears corn, shucked
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup fat-free half and half
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
Heat oven to 350*
Cut pumpkin into quarters, remove seeds and stringy bits, and arrange pumpkin cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Place the yellow peppers, jalapeno, corn and Fresno peppers (all uncut), around the pieces of pumpkin.
Bake for 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft all the way through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Measure out four cups of pumpkin. Reserve the rest for future use…Like the pumpkin pie you’ll make later today!
Place the pumpkin in a blender or food processor, and process until very smooth. Press through a sieve to remove any sinewy bits. Pour puree in to a stock pot. Remove stems from peppers, and puree them in the blender. Add to the pumpkin mixture. Cut corn from the cob using a sharp knife, and add to the soup. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot, and mix well. Bring to a simmer, adjust salt to desired level, and serve.
I serve with some sliced Fresno and jalapeno peppers, and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.
Chili Roasted Prawns in Pumpkin Ale serves 8
Obviously, I did not make the beer or use any fresh pumpkin in this recipe…But I can only find pumpkin ale this time of year, and this recipe is worth sharing…..Sort of like Cajun BBQ Shrimp. But not.
- 8 large prawns or super large shrimp, heads removed
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bottle Pumpkin Ale
Add shrimp (shells still on) to a large bowl. Combine the chili powder, salt and lemon pepper, and toss with the shrimp, coating well.
Heat butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Arrange shrimp in an even layer in the skillet, and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until starting to form a crust on the edges. Pour in beer, and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked and the sauce is reduced a bit. Serve with crusty bread or croutons for dipping in the sauce.