Hi, fellow foodies. We are in full pumpkin swing and candy is popping up all over the place! If you haven’t already, start stocking up because those trick-or-treaters will be knocking on your door in about a week. And you don’t want your house toilet papered, do you?
For any of you having ghoulish gatherings and sinister soirees, there are lots of horrific recipes out there that will make your guests scream…or at least look twice at what they’re eating and drinking. There are recipes out there for every type of ghoulish treat, from cute ghosts and witches to truly horrifying zombies and body parts.
If you’re going to be doing any pumpkin carving, don’t throw away all that fabulous flesh and those beautiful seeds! To me, throwing out all that stuff is an abomination. You can prepare the flesh and use it in recipes, the same as you would canned pumpkin. Never done it before? I’ll tell you how.
I say this knowing full well that processing fresh pumpkin is a bit of a job. But if you’re up for it, here’s the step-by-step process. Make sure everyone’s hands are clean when scooping out pumpkins. Also, wash the outside of the pumpkins and make sure the utensils being used are clean, too.
- If you’re starting with a whole pumpkin (one that hasn’t been carved) and it’s small enough to fit in your oven, bake it. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and use a knife to poke holes all around the pumpkin (you don’t want that sucker exploding in your oven). Place it on a baking sheet and bake until you can pierce the pumpkin easily with a knife. The pumpkin may collapse and that’s okay. Remove it from the oven and let it cool. If the pumpkin is too big for your oven, cut it up and steam as instructed below.
If you’re starting with pieces (cut from a jack-o’-lantern), cut them into chunks. Cut away the skins and fibers and put in a bowl; set aside. Place the chunks in a steamer rack and steam until soft.
If you have flesh not attached to skin, place that in a heat-proof bowl and steam it. I personally don’t like to use microwaves, but if that’s what you’re into, you can microwave it for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
- Scoop or cut the flesh away from the skin. If it was baked, cut away the seeds and fibers and place in a bowl. Place some of the pumpkin flesh in a food processor and puree. You may need to nudge it with a rubber spatula now and then. If you need to add liquid, add as little as possible to get it going. Transfer to a bowl. Add the next batch, and so on, until all the pumpkin is pureed. Combing all the batches in the bowl.
- Transfer the puree to a strainer set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least a few hours). If possible, give it a stir and let it sit in the refrigerator another day or two. It’s now ready to use in a recipe.
To Toast the Seeds:
Separate the seeds from the fibers. Discard the fibers and rinse the seeds in a strainer under cool running water. Drain well. Spread them out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle salt over them and stir. If you want, you can add seasonings to them, such as chili powder or cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned.
One of my favorite ways of using pumpkin is in pumkin ravioli. Here’s my version of it. Enjoy!
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup ricotta cheese
Butter Sage Sauce (recipe follows)
Combine the flour, ½ tsp salt, egg, and 1 cup water. Mix and make a dough.
In a bowl, combine the pumpkin, cottage cheese, remaining salt, and pepper and mix well.
Roll out the dough. Cut 2½- to 3- inch circles. Fill ½ the circles with a tablespoon of filling top with remaining circles and seal shut with a little water. Press with a fork around edges.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add some ravioli. When the rise to the surface, scoop them out and place in a bowl. Repeat with remaining ravioli. Keep warm. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
Transfer ravioli to warm platter. Pour sauce over the top. Gently toss to coat. Serve immediately or keep warm in chafing dish.
Makes about 16 to 18 ravioli.
½ lb butter (1 8-tbsp stick)
¼ minced fresh sage or 2 tbsp crushed dried sage
½ tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a skillet, melt the butter and cook it until it starts to turn brown. Add the remaining ingredients and cook another minute.