Valley Bounty: Pumpkins

For us 21st Century Americans, the pumpkin has a few different roles in our culture: besides being a stand-in for all things autumnal, the pumpkin is both the spookiest produce and the center of the “pumpkin spice” phenomenon (though, strangely enough, that’s often a pumpkinless affair). Perhaps it is the orange gourd’s steadfastness on our tables over the centuries that leaves it vulnerable to our imaginations. In any case, let’s take this pumpkin season as an opportunity to meet the pumpkin on its own terms.

Outside the pumpkin’s traditional kitchen lifespan (which begins with canned puree and ends with pie), there are plenty of possibilities when working with whole pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds (but save them for roasting!), and bake until the flesh is soft all the way through. Its natural sweetness and nuttiness make it a great addition to savory dishes like chili and hearty soups. You can also try adding it to gnocchi (using it in place of ricotta) or filling ravioli with pumpkin, caramelized onions, and sage; both go great with browned butter and Parmesan.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)