Pumpkins are a member of the squash family. This vegetable can be cooked, pureed, and used in a variety of dishes including soups, breads, and desserts. Pumpkin is a low calorie food, and a very good source of dietary fiber and Vitamins A and C. Roasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack adding fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins to our diet.
When selecting pumpkins, consider the variety, size and shape you will need. Select a "pie pumpkin" or "sweet pumpkin" for cooking. These are smaller than the large jack-o-lantern pumpkins, and the flesh is sweeter and less watery. Look for a pumpkin with 1 to 2 inches of stem, and free of blemishes and soft spots. It should be heavy; shape is usually unimportant. One pound of raw pumpkin will provide about 1 cup pumpkin puree.
Below are some great ways to use locally-grown pumpkins to make hearty and delicious treats. Look for a "Cinderella" or bowl shaped pumpkin to serve as your soup bowl when preparing the soup. Save seeds from a bigger pumpkin for roasting. Enjoy!
Hearty Soup in a Pumpkin
Medium-sized pumpkin ("Cinderella" or bowl shape)
4 chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 large carrots
2 celery stalks
1/2 cup of scallions
1 can low-sodium cream of chicken soup
1 can low-sodium cream of celery soup
1 can low-sodium chicken alphabet or noodle soup
1 can of water
1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Wash the outside of the pumpkin with water.
- Cut off the top of the pumpkin and clean out the inside of the pumpkin with a spoon. (You can put the seeds aside for roasting later).
- Cut up the chicken into small pieces and cook in 2 Tablespoons of butter in a pan on the stovetop until golden brown.
- Remove the chicken and set it aside.
- Wash and cut carrots and celery into small bite-sized pieces.
- Wash and chop 1/2 cup scallions.
- Cook the carrots, celery and scallions in 1 Tablespoons of melted butter using a large frying pan until tender.
- Add 1 can each of cream of chicken soup, cream of celery soup, and chicken alphabet or noodle soup. Stir.
- Stir in 1 can of water, 1/3 cup sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.
- Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and pour the mixture into the hollow pumpkin and add the cooked chicken.
- Stir and place the pumpkin top over the pumpkin.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.
- Carefully remove and serve. Scrape the side of the pumpkin when serving.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Seeds of hollowed out pumpkin -- rinsed and dried
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste