Pumpkin lovers, turn your jack-o-lantern into a jack of all trades
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I see one leaf change colour, I spiral into an autumnal bliss. I feel genuine joy seeing new installations of pumpkin carts along the highway roadside. This is my season. Yes, I’m one of THOSE.
Though Halloween 2020 will likely be very different from past October 31sts, nothing will prevent me from picking up my pumpkins from the local farmer’s market (keep shopping local!). This year, I want to encourage readers to look beyond the disposable appeal of Halloween by settling instead for a zero-waste fall.
Here are some fun ideas on how to push your pumpkin past the point of a simple carving and use it in yummy food dishes instead.
Soup season is around the corner
Don’t chuck those pumpkin guts in the garbage! Though they rarely survive a pumpkin carving, save the stringy bits (but set aside the seeds) for the next time you make soup broth. A quick vegetable broth could include the leftovers from pumpkin, onions, celery, and carrots, mixed in with six to eight cups of water. Boil for an hour or two for a nutrient-dense, freezable batch of homemade soup base.
Mac n’ cheese with a surprising twist
Pumpkin mac n’ cheese… Bet you didn’t see this one coming. As a self-proclaimed carb lover, I appreciate occasionally hiding extra goodness among the folds of the calories. Plus, the pumpkin lends a dramatic, seasonally appropriate orange colour to the sauce. Extra mac-ness, if you will.
Pumpkin Mac N’ Cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (the higher the fat, the better… without venturing into cream)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup pumpkin, puréed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Optional: 1/4 tsp nutmeg, added to the sauce for a fall-inspired flavour
Cook the macaroni. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter and add flour. Whisk for two to three minutes until the mixture turns light brown.
Add the milk to the butter-flour concoction slowly. Don’t stop whisking! As the mixture begins to thicken, add some salt and pepper, the mustard, and the nutmeg (optional). Incorporate the pumpkin purée and the cheddar cheese. Mix in the cooked pasta and you’re all set.
LEVEL IT UP: Go for the baked version! Preheat the oven to 350˚F, put the mac n’ cheese into a greased baking dish, top with more cheddar cheese and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes.
Homemade pumpkin seed brittle
Step away from the trash bin! We are ready for desert with this crowd-pleasing pumpkin seed brittle. You’ll find handfuls of protein-rich, fatty (the good kind) seeds in pumpkins. Does it have 800 times the daily suggested sugar intake? Maybe. But Quench’s nutty, sweet, salty and spiced homemade pumpkin seed brittle truly takes the cake.
Reduce your waste this fall by turning your centrepieces into culinary masterpieces and buy gourds from local farms if you can (there’s still a pandemic going on, people!).