Cooking with pumpkin just wasn’t a thing in my house growing up.
I guess we ate pumpkin pie (although I don’t recall my mother ever making it), but it likely came out of a can. My first recollection of actually buying and eating fresh pumpkin was when I was travelling in Australia in my 20s. A friend made me pumpkin soup and I was blown away by how easy and tasty it was.
I naively came home and attempted to make my own with jack-o-lantern pumpkins bought at the supermarket. It worked. Sort of.
My personal food revolution occurred when I moved to Smithers nearly 12 years ago. This agricultural community has an amazing variety of locally sourced foods and among them was pumpkin. In fact, I recently attended an event where pumpkins featured prominently: a harvest party, complete with great people, live music, delicious appies and local produce, like pumpkins, for sale.
All the things I love about my town, rolled into one afternoon.
While pumpkin soup is easy, roasting and freezing pumpkin is even easier. So, I stocked up for winter with enough squash and pumpkins to roast, freeze and use in some of my favourite recipes.
To roast a pumpkin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a large knife to slice the pumpkin in half lengthwise and a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place the halves facedown on a cookie sheet with a quarter inch water in the bottom and roast one hour. Allow to cool, then remove the skin. From here, the squash meat can go directly into a soup, it can wait several days in the fridge, or go into freezer bags.
I roasted my first pumpkin of the season the other day and found three ways to use it before bedtime: soup (of course), ravioli (a little more complicated) and muffins. If you try any of these, let me know how they work out.
Nick’s Man-Cold Pumpkin Soup
On the day of my own personal pumpkin fest, Nick had a nasty flu bug. So, amidst his complaining and self-pity, I made this soup and threw in lots of garlic and turmeric to up the immune-boosting action. Even better than Grandma’s chicken noodle. Serves four.
1 onion, chopped
2 tble (30 mL) cooking oil
2 pounds (1 kg) pumpkin, roasted
2 garlic bulbs, roasted and cooled
2 tble (30 mL) fresh sage, coarsely chopped
1 tble (15 mL) turmeric
4 cups (1 litre) soup stock (chicken or veggie)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream or crème fraîche, for garnish
Slice the top off the garlic bulbs, brush with oil and wrap in tinfoil; roast in the oven 30 minutes (you can do this while the pumpkin roasts).
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion five to eight minutes, until translucent.
Squeeze roasted garlic from its skin and into pot; add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.
Simmer 10 minutes, then purée with an immersion blender.
Serve hot and garnish with sour cream or crème fraîche, if desired.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
If you’re new to making homemade pasta, this one might be a bit of an adventure. We’ve been making our own pasta for a couple years and I’m still trying to get the hang of ravioli. Fortunately, they taste great even when they’re a little misshapen. You can drape your pasta sheets over mini-muffin tins and drop the filling into the divots, or lay them flat on a cutting board and either double to pasta sheet back over itself to cover or roll a second one and place it on top. Feel free to pass along the technique that works best for you! Serves four.
300 grams (2/3 pound) unbleached flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 tble (30 mL) salt (for boiling)
3 tble (45 mL) olive oil
Half an onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups (500 mL) pumpkin meat, roasted
3/4 cup (190 mL) goat cheese
1/4 tsp (3 mL) salt
Brown butter sauce:
1/4 cup (60 mL) salted butter
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh sage, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) walnuts
Grated parmesan to serve.
On a clean surface, place the flour and use a fork to hollow out the centre to create a volcano; break the eggs into the centre and lightly beat, gradually drawing in flour from the edges until egg and flour is entirely combined. Kneed several minutes.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge minimum 30 minutes and up to one day.
Sauté onion and garlic until golden (5 to 8 minutes) and remove from heat.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, roughly mash roasted pumpkin using a fork or potato masher; add garlic, onion and goat cheese; set aside.
Divide pasta dough into four parts; on a lightly floured surface, press flat with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin or pasta maker to roll the dough until it appears almost translucent.
Lay the dough flat and place 1-tble blobs of pumpkin mixture about two inches apart on one half; pull the other half of the dough over top.
Press the dough around the edges and between the pumpkin filling, then use a knife or pizza cutter to cut into pieces; pinch the edges of each piece and dust with more flour to prevent sticking.
Repeat process with other pieces of dough.
Bring three litres of water to boil and add salt; cook ravioli four minutes.
While pasta cooks, heat butter on medium-high heat for three minutes, throwing in the walnuts and sage for the last minute, and remove from heat.
Remove ravioli from water with a slotted spoon and toss several at a time in brown butter sauce to coat; serve with grated parmesan.
For a long time, I stubbornly roasted seeds directly from the pumpkin and used them to top pumpkin muffins and loaves. But pumpkin seed husks are darn chewy and I have yet to find an efficient way of removing them. So, I’ve given up and now use store-bought seeds — but if anyone has a trick for husking pumpkin seeds, please let me know! (Recipe adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook. Makes about 12 muffins.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (125 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) milk or milk alterative
3/4 cup (185 mL) brown sugar
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla
2 tble (30 mL) fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) pumpkin, roasted and mashed
1/2 cup (125 mL) rolled oats
1 cup (250 mL) unbleached flour
3/4 cup (185 mL) whole wheat flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 1/2 tsp (8 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (3 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (3 mL) nutmeg
1 tble (15 mL) cooking oil
1/4 cup (60 mL) pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; grease a large muffin pan and set aside.
Combine eggs, oil, milk, sugar, vanilla, ginger and pumpkin in a large bowl and mix, removing any lumps; stir in oats.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry and gently mix to combine.
Heat oil over medium heat and toss in pumpkin seeds, one minute or less, to toast.
Fill muffin tins with batter and top with pumpkin seeds.
Bake 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.