Pumpkin pie is standard fare at most Thanksgiving feasts. Many of us look forward to eating it for dessert once a year. However, if you are tired of that thick, sweet piece of pie at the end of this already-filling meal, consider these interesting alternatives.
Pumpkin is a very nutritious fruit — not a vegetable as most of us believe. Its scientific name is “cucurbita maxima,” which reflects the possibility of its “maximum” size. In fact, The World Pumpkin Federation reports the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed more than 1,000 pounds! There are about 26 varieties of pumpkin, ranging in color from bright orange to pale yellow and green.
You can find pumpkin mixed into soups, salads, main dishes, desserts (other than pies) and even drinks. Here are a few different ideas to get your culinary juices flowing: pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin-chicken chili, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins, scones, cookies, bars and breads, pumpkin butter, pumpkin-pecan cheesecake, pumpkin beer, pumpkin fudge,and pumpkin creme brulee. Recipes for these and many other pumpkin dishes are plentiful and readily available at your favorite online recipe site when you put “pumpkin” in the search box provided by the site.
And, if you want to start a new pumpkin tradition, roasted pumpkin seeds are easy-to–make and not as time-consuming as baking a pumpkin pie. It is a fun multi-generational activity which can be enjoyed by children all the way up to senior citizens as your Thanksgiving Day unfolds. Here are step-by-step directions: Rinse the seeds in cold water and remove the pulp and fibers, then drain and blot dry. Coat pumpkin seeds with melted butter or vegetable oil and sprinkle lightly with salt or your favorite seasoning. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. One four pound pumpkin will yield approximately two cups of seeds.
If you roast some of the seeds and plant others, next year you will have your very own pumpkin patch. Then you can select from pumpkins you have grown for use in recipes, thereby starting another tradition for you and your family!