It’s Halloween week and pumpkins are pretty much the star (save for your favorite miniature candy bars). Well, you can get your traditional big ol’ jack o lantern to carve or one of the many enormous heirloom varieties found even at the supermarket. But there are also plenty of smaller unique pumpkin varieties that can be brought into the kitchen for feasting. In fact, you’ll find "pie" pumpkins tend to be smaller, sweeter, and more smoothly textured than the ones you’ll make ferocious faces out of. Here are several I found from Suzie’s Farm, which has booths in many of our local farmers markets. All are $2 a pound.
From left: Long Island Cheese and Polar Bear, Winter Luxury, Bliss, Wee Be Little
Long Island Cheese
With a shape and coloring like a wheel of cheddar, this white, ribbed pumpkin variety comes honestly by its name. It has a high sugar content, making it a go-to pumpkin for pie.
Here’s another white pumpkin, but the surprise is when you cut inside and get vibrant orange flesh. Sure, you can carve it, but it’s also terrific for pies and breads.
This warm orange pumpkin covered with netting is actually a rich and velvety squash that is perfect for baking, pie, ice cream, and soups. They tend to range from five to seven pounds.
What an odd-looking variety! The Bliss has a rough, dark ashy exterior with orange flesh. Unlike many pumpkins, this variety isn’t very sweet. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good, just that you’ll want to use it for savory dishes like curry or pasta.
Wee Be Littles
These petite orange sugar pumpkins are so dainty and pretty that many people like to slice off the top and use them as little containers for soup or salad or creamy desserts like puddings. Jenna Barnes of Suzie’s Farm gave me a quick and easy soup recipe you’ll want to try.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the pumpkin top and scoop out the seeds and fiber. Fill the pumpkins with chopped onion, minced garlic, a handful of cheese (she likes cheddar, but choose your favorite), milk, salt and pepper to taste, and a pat of butter on top. Rub the pumpkin with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a spoon or fork, dig into the warm mixture and gently scrape off the now soft flesh inside the pumpkin. Stir the pumpkin flesh with the rest of the ingredients to make the soup. Add chopped sage to finish it off and serve with crusty bread.
You can find more recipes on the Suzie’s Farm website.
Note: To bake with a pumpkin, first wash the exterior in warm water, then cut it in half lengthwise using a serrated knife. Scoop out the seeds and fiber. Then you can either microwave with a little water, cook on the stove top in a steamer basket and water, or bake it. The idea is to get the flesh soft so you can scoop it out of the skin. If it’s watery, strain the flesh over cheesecloth for a couple of hours. Depending on how you want to use it, you’ll probably then puree it. Now, you’re ready for pie.
And remember, don’t toss the seeds. Strip them of the fiber, rinse them off, let them dry, toss with a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings, and roast them. They make great snacks and are perfect to add to salads or top soups.