"Pumpkin is in the gourd family, the same as any winter squash. It's sweet, flavorful, filled with vitamin A and you can use it in so many other recipes," said chef and food stylist Denise Vivaldo.
For example, Vivaldo makes a delicious pumpkin soup. She simply roasts an onion, an apple and some cut-up squash. She scoops flesh from a pumpkin shell, and then blends all of it up to perfection. Sage, thyme, cumin or cayenne are all great spices that marry well with pumpkin, by the way.
Vivaldo says popovers with the leftover turkey and a little gravy the day after Thanksgiving is going to be a winner. Pumpkin, canned or fresh pureed, added to egg and flour and then poured in a muffin tin creates a baked good that's perfect for holiday entertaining.
Nutritionally, I like pumpkin because, whatever you're making, it's going to be healthier. You're looking at about 45 calories per half a cup, loads of fiber and more beta carotene and Vitamin A than you need in one day. For instance, Vivaldo has a low-cal take on chocolate chip cookies.
"We're able to reduce a little bit of the fat in plain old chocolate chip cookie. [Using] the pumpkin instead makes a really fluffy cake cookie," Vivaldo said.
With Halloween around the corner, co-chef Cindie Flannigan said when making a Jack-o-lantern, save the seeds for a sensational snack. Just separate the seeds from the flesh and then put them on an oiled sheet pan.
"Sprinkle a little salt on it and put it in the oven at about 350 for maybe 10 to 12 minutes," said Flannigan.
When they are crunchy and dry, they're done. Place them in an airtight container and they will last for about three days.
You can also slow cook apples with pumpkin flesh and then blend them up for pumpkin applesauce.
For an innovative taste sensation, pumpkin seed oil is fabulous drizzled on soup or salad. And pumpkin seed butter is a nutty spread for baked goods.