Fall into a Pumpkin

Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers. Pumpkins are 90% water and rich in potassium and Vitamin A. Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and phytosterols. Pumpkin seeds contain relaxing properties and are said to lower cholesterol; one gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan as a full glass of milk.

Here are some fun pumpkin ideas we love.

Roasted Pumpkin

Toss large cubes of pumpkin with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender, mixing every few minutes for even color and cooking. Serve as a side dish or tossed with short pasta. – chef Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern in New York City

Spiced Pumpkin Puree

Season a halved and cleaned pumpkin with salt and pepper, top each half with 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake skin side down at 400 degrees until fully cooked, roughly 1 hour. In skillet, simmer 4 cloves and 1/2 cup wine for 5 minutes to remove alcohol. Strain. Reserve wine. Transfer pumpkin meat to blender with 2 tablespoons of butter, wine, and a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg, cayenne and mace. Puree until smooth. Season to taste. Pass through a fine mesh sieve if smoother texture desired. Serve alongside roasted chicken. – chef Chris Kranner

Pumpkin Quesadilla

Roast a halved and cleaned pumpkin seasoned with salt and olive oil for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove flesh. Mix with caramelized onions, a roasted, peeled and sliced poblano pepper, toasted pumpkin seeds and a cheese of your choice. Press mix between two corn tortillas and griddle on both sides. – chef Jose Garces, Distrito in Philadelphia

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