It’s after Halloween, but not quite Thanksgiving. Pumpkins abound, and you’ve probably brought at least one, if not several, home with you from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Once you’re done appreciating their festive beauty – then what? Pumpkins have many uses beyond just pie! There is much more you can do with a pumpkin, even if it’s already been carved! And pumpkins, from seeds to pulp to flesh, offer numerous health benefits.
If you haven’t carved your pumpkin yet, be sure to save the seeds. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are high in protein, antioxidants, healthy fats, and minerals. To roast, separate them from the stringy insides of the pumpkin, rinse, and place on a dish towel to dry. Once dry, toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread on a sheet pan and roast in a 300 degree oven until golden brown. Use them in salads, in baked goods, as a topping for hummus or dips, or in a not so traditional pesto!
Save the Pulp
The pumpkin pulp – or all those strings inside of the pumpkin – actually can be used! It’s a great addition to vegetable stock. Just add it along with your favorite vegetables to make stock. Or puree it directly. Both the stock and puree can be frozen and used in pasta dishes, your favorite baked goods, added to smoothies, oatmeal, in soups and casseroles – the list is endless!
Bake It Up!
Lastly, cut your pumpkin in half or in manageable pieces depending on its size and bake in the oven at 300 degrees until cooked through. Let cool. Scoop out the flesh and blend in your blender for pumpkin puree. This puree is thicker than the puree made out of the pulp, but can still be used in all of the same recipes and, of course, pie!
By the way, the pumpkin rind is edible! It can be included in your casseroles, pastas, and soups for additional flavor, or even made into pumpkin chips!
Too late? Did you carve your pumpkin without saving the seeds or pulp and then leave it outside? You’re local wildlife won’t mind a bit! Fill it with birdseed or cut it up and leave it out for other creatures to enjoy!