|Photo by Kristy Rustay|
Pumpkins speak of Autumn. Their bright oranges, creamy whites, and dusky greens line roadside stands, fill supermarket bins and adorn front porches with the colors of fall. People are beginning to realize that the appeal of pumpkins goes way beyond their decorative beauty. Pumpkins are a highly nutritious, versatile ingredient. Beneath the tough skin of a pumpkin reside enough complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phyto-nutrients to earn it “super food” status. Pumpkins are a powerful package of nutrition. And the best part is that they are delicious. They can either be the star of a recipe, as in pumpkin pie, or they can offer a great supporting role, as in Spaghetti with Peppers, Onions and Sausage (recipe below).
Aside from the great nutrition, pumpkins are great to cook with. They add color, texture and a subtle flavor to many savory and sweet recipes. To be sure that I have enough fresh pumpkin to last through the winter, I visit Farmer John every fall and choose from his colorful collection of edible pumpkins. My assortment usually includes a Hubbard squash (my favorite), a bright orange Cinderella, a creamy Long Island, a peachy Sonia, several dark green Kabochas, a few little sugar pies, and whatever else he recommends as being especially tasty. The names of the varieties may change with the location, so rely on your farmer when making a choice. These hearty, thick-skinned cucurbits keep for months when stored out of the sun in a cool spot. Mine sit on my Bay Area front porch in an old apple box and last throughout the winter and spring. If you live in a climate with deep frosts, keep them in a dry basement. It is a pity that most edible pumpkins disappear after Thanksgiving when grocers fill their shelves with items for the next holiday. One farmer told me that after Thanksgiving, he feeds leftover pumpkins to his goats, making for very healthy goats. So if you want a supply for the winter, you must shop in the fall.
Spaghetti with Peppers, Onions & SausageServes 4
Peppers and onions just belong together. Add some pumpkin and sausage to make a spicy sauce that can be poured over spaghetti for a simple meal. Add a loaf of bread and nice red wine for a perfect dinner.
4 sweet Italian sausages
1 pound fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced, 1 ½ cups
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (14.5 ounces) plum tomatoes with juice
½ cup red wine
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 pound spaghetti
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
- Turn the grill to high. When hot, reduce the heat to about medium and grill the sausages until brown all over, about 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and slice into ½-inch slices. Set aside.
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Rub the pumpkin chunks with oil, place in a roasting pan, and cook for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and coarsely chop enough to make 2 cups. Store the rest in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the red pepper and green pepper and continue cooking.
- Mix the pumpkin with the salt, pepper to taste, and oregano and add to the skillet. Add the sausages, tomatoes, and wine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with the pepper flakes.
- While the sauce is cooking, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, divide among 4 plates, spoon the sauce over each plate, and pass the Parmesan.
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Want more pumpkin recipes from DeeDee? Check out Creamy Kale & Pumpkin Soup on our blog. For ebook readers: Pumpkin is a Fresh Picks title for the month of October. Satisfy your pumpkin craving all year long for just $2.99.