Are you tired of pumpkin from a can? I most certainly am. I know it’s not the worst thing in the world, especially when there are some really good organic varieties out there, but I’d much rather have the fresh alternative without any hint of aluminum taste in the pumpkin.
This is definitely the season for pumpkins- not just for baking, but cooking, too. Pumpkins have been ready here since early September and are still prominently displayed as a seasonal item in the market and stores.
Pumpkin puree is one of the most amazing results of steaming pie pumpkins, or those smaller varieties of pumpkins that look cute- plump and round and somewhat thick skinned with deep orange coloring. I’ll explain in a moment just how to steam them, but first let me tell you what you can make with steamed pumpkin- and it’s not just pies.
For things like soup, I prefer cutting and roasting the pumpkin because all the added dried herbs and salt used in roasting adds a nice depth of flavor to the soups. You can certainly still make soup from steamed pumpkin- it actually makes very nice and light soups, depending on how you prepare them.
One of my favorite recipes in the fall is my Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta. I began experimenting with chopped then sauteed pumpkin pieces with penne pasta one Fall season and my I loved it so much that I decided to make more dishes with pumpkin and pasta. The original recipe calls for roasting pumpkin ahead of time, but steaming it is an equally wonderful option, reducing some of the overall use of oil, too.
Pumpkin puree can be frozen if you don’t plan to use it right away. It’s great to have on hand for later to flavor rice, pasta and soups but I particularly love it as a base in rice dishes, topped with lightly toasted pepitas, or pumpkin seeds.
Drinks? Yes, drinks– and I’m not talking about mulled cider with pumpkin spices mixes here. I’m talking nutrient-packed smoothies here. Just add some pumpkin puree to yogurt, a banana and a tablespoon of honey. Blend together for a thick, filling and healthy breakfast drink. You have to try it to taste how wonderful that combination is.
Ok, here’s the really good stuff: desserts. Pumpkin cupcakes, rolls and pies are high on the list of to-do’s this season. Most important (to me) is the pumpkin pie. Once you steam the pumpkin and remove the skin, the aroma of the cooked pumpkin flesh will tell you that this is what you’ve been looking for from the canned version: a fresh, light aroma, a beautiful orange color, and visions of how it’ll make your homemade pumpkin pie be the best dessert on the table.
Stay tuned this week- I’ll be sharing my recipe for not-from-a-can pumpkin pie, insha’allah.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
Ever since I started steaming, I’ve become addicted to the smell, texture and freshness. Nothing from a can comes close.
1 pie pumpkin (also known as sugar pumpkins)
a large stock pot with a steamer basket
- Clean the outside of the pumpkin. Cut it in half and remove the seeds. (Here’s what you can do with those seeds)
- Place steamer basket inside the stockpot and fill the pot with water just below the basket.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Place each pumpkin half face down on the steamer basket and cover the pot with a lid.
- Cook for 40 minutes. Pumpkins are done when a fork piercing them goes in easily.
- Bring pumpkins out onto a pie dish or deep baking pan, face down. Allow to cool for a minute or two, then remove the skins gently. They should come off easily, but if you wait too long, the skin will stick to the flesh and be harder to remove.
- Allow the steamed pumpkin to cool off completely. If not using right away, refrigerate as soon as it has cooled. If you’re planning to use it after several days, it can be frozen in plastic bags or freezer-safe containers for a few months.