Humans have been growing pumpkins for thousands of years, and we’ve been figuring out how to use them in our cooking for just as long. So why, I ask, WHY, is the pie the way that we most commonly find the humble pumpkin on our Thanksgiving tables? It’s 2018. We have the power of the entire Internet behind us. It’s time to reach beyond the pie and embrace the full potential of this powerhouse of a fruit (and yes, it’s a fruit, so don’t even bother Googling to check).
Though we may forget it in all of the carving, decorative uses, and Halloween-ing, the pumpkin is, above all, a healthy, hearty squash that fits in so well with our favorite fall recipes that it’s almost a wonder we ever started wasting them on decorations (or pie) at all. Pumpkin is good for you, full of flavor, and as versatile as those black boots your mom scored for you last Christmas. So here’s my big ask: stop wasting pumpkin in pie. It’s more than just a flavor for that custardy classic that everyone loves to well. It’s more than just a centerpiece! It’s more than just a nickname for the baby who lives next door! Give pumpkin (and me!) a chance and take the pumpkin back from the pie. If by the end of this post I haven’t convinced you, then I promise I will not judge you for making a pumpkin pie. In fact, I swear it on my KitchenAid.
Reason 1: Pumpkin is full of fiber, vitamin A, antioxidants, and potassium. It’s a power food!
Check out that list of benefits and tell me I’m wrong. Pumpkin = power! This fall, skip the pumpkin spice latte (which, by the way, contains no pumpkin) and opt instead for a pumpkin smoothie to start out your morning. Follow your favorite smoothie recipe, then add in a scoop of pumpkin and some cinnamon for a fall twist. My favorite combination is Greek yogurt, ginger, pumpkin, cinnamon and oat milk. Delicious and nutritious!
Reason 2: Pumpkin adds pizzazz to your Thanksgiving table.
Pumpkins can go beyond being just an ingredient. In this video , watch The Chopping Block's Owner/Chef Shelley Young make a stunning centerpiece that stars a gorgeous French pumpkin that doubles as its own serving dish.
Roasting a turkey is impressive; don’t get me wrong. But roasting a pumpkin?! That’s next level. (Pst, The Chopping Block is having a sale on cast iron pans too this month, so you can snag one at a discount!)
Reason 3: Pumpkin can replace oils and fats in baked goods.
Ding ding ding! Another health benefit. It’s pumpkin everything season anyway, so why not play the substitution game with your favorite cake, muffin, or even pancake recipe? Sub in a cup of pumpkin for a cup of vegetable oil in your favorite recipes and lighten them up while also skipping some fat and calories! My personal favorites for this experiment include brownies and vanilla cake mix. Pop some pumpkin in there and add some cinnamon. Before you know it, you’ve got a new and oh-so-improved favorite.
Reason 4: Pumpkin can star in the best cake you’ve ever made.
While you’re throwing pumpkin into baked goods, you might as well go ahead and make this totally amazing pumpkin maple cake. With frosting that tastes like when syrup and butter blend on top of pancakes and a toasted pecan topping, this cake will make you forget that pumpkin pie ever existed.
So there you go. Push past pie, and experiment with some new ways to use pumpkin this fall. And if this post just got you way too excited about fall cooking, be sure to check out some of the classes that The Chopping Block is offering on autumnal cooking:
- The Great Pumpkin
- Fall Dinner Party
- Autumn Soups and Stews
- Autumn in New England
- Dinner Party Classics