October 3, 2009

Cooking School: Sugar Pumpkins vs Jack-O-Lanterns

I've been asked what's the difference, so here goes... If cooking, use sugar (or "pie") pumpkins. They're "meatier" so-to-speak, and provide more heft to a dish, especially pie or pasta filling. Large pumpkins, having thinner walls and lots of seeds, are really only farmed for carving. You can read more about all the differences here. I agree wholeheartedly with what Produce Pete says about sugar pumpkins and soup. I've tried making my curried pumpkin soup with canned pumpkin puree, and well, forgedabouddit! Nothing beats the real Action Jackson--a sugar pumpkin! You can get my curried pumpkin soup here. In the meantime, here's a toasted pumpkin seed recipe we tried last night, with the pumpkin seeds from the latest batch of soup. These make a great, healthy snack, and I daresay they could replace popcorn at your next movie theater outing!

Indian-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups washed and dried pumpkin seeds
2 T vegetable oil
1 tsp garam masala (Indian combination spice, found at Whole Foods or a local ethnic grocery store)
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Set baking rack in oven at second level (not the middle, but not the highest rung either). Line a 14 x 10 jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with a lip) with parchment or Silpat. In a bowl, combine pumpkin seeds, vegetable oil, garam masala, and salt. Mix thoroughly and spread on sheet pan. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking. Allow to cool and store in airtight container or sealed Ziploc. Keeps 1 week.

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