As foods go, raw pumpkins aren't the most appetizing. Even the Native Americans vacillated between eating them and weaving their tough flesh into floor mats. So it's no wonder that the modern world has found a more entertaining use for this jolly squash. By all means, carve a pumpkin for Halloween! But as you do, don't discard the guts and weird pieces. Like Cinderella's pumpkin, they can magically transform into something wonderful.
Eat the Seeds!
Toasted pumpkin seeds are nothing short of delicious. They're crunchy and nutty and full of protein and fiber. Easy to make, too. Rinse and dry the seeds, then toss them with a dash of vegetable oil and your favorite seasonings. Spread them on a baking sheet and toast them at 300 degrees, stirring them occasionally, until they're golden brown (about half an hour). For an extra delicious treat, try these sweet-hot pumpkin seeds with autumn spices.
Eat the Guts!
Or to be more specific, drink them. Yes, you can use that stringy slimy stuff from the center of the pumpkin: Put it in a pot with plenty of water, and boil it to make a thin broth. Strain the broth, then mix it with mulled apple cider, cinnamon and nutmeg to make hot apple-pumpkin cider.
You can also use pumpkin broth as a base for soups. Try adding carrot, celery and other vegetable trimmings for more flavor.
Eat the Flesh!
There's a catch here: Once your carved pumpkin has been sitting around a while, you can't safely eat it. But you can save the carvings -- the eyes, nose and other small pieces -- to make all sorts of delicacies. Scrape the insides of your pumpkin well, and you'll have enough flesh to work with.
Pumpkin candy (dulces de calabasas) is a Mexican tradition that involves boiling pumpkin bits in a thin syrup spiced with cinnamon and ginger. Let it soak overnight, dry it well and roll it in cinnamon sugar.
Pumpkin butter is made from puréed pumpkin, sugar, spices and water or cider. Simmer the ingredients about 30 minutes in a saucepan, then spoon the mix into a jar. Best served on toast and muffins.
Pumpkin pie tartlets are a bite-sized version of classic pumpkin pie, just big enough to use all your carvings. Purée your pumpkin bits and use them in place of canned pumpkin with your favorite pie filling recipe. Line muffin tins with pie crust and scoop in the filling; bake until delicious!
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