As I walked into the grocery store last week, I saw something that invoked a huge happy dance. Pumpkins. Sugar pie pumpkins to be more specific. Like many of my Facebook friends who start posting about their longing for a pumpkin latte in July, I too look forward to pumpkin season….but not for the coffee. I love pumpkin. Fresh, never-been-canned pumpkin. I’m not certain, but I think God sends pumpkins as reward for making it through the hot Oklahoma summer.
The sugar pie pumpkins available this time of year are a sweet seasonal vegetable that can add some fall charm to your menu. They are smaller than jack-o’-lantern pumpkins and are readily available at grocery stores and pumpkin patches. (Check out these Tulsa Pumpkin Patches.)
Not only is pumpkin healthy, it’s also very versatile. You can cube it and roast it with olive oil, salt and pepper; you can puree it and eat (this is how my six-year-old prefers it), make soup, pumpkin pancakes, and a variety of baked goods with it. The other night I used the puree to make linguine with a pumpkin Alfredo sauce. I’ve even made my own pumpkin lattes.
Roasting a pumpkin is pretty simple. It takes about 10 minutes of hands-on work. While it might be easier to grab a can opener, there’s something satisfying about making your own puree from the fresh vegetable. (See instructions below.) Plus, I think it tastes better!
I used my initial batch of puree to make pumpkin streusel bread. The loaf disappeared within a day, so I made a second one. This time, I tried some substitutions: homemade applesauce instead of part of the oil, coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and brown sugar instead of granulated. I thought the second loaf turned out better than the first. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Happy pumpkin season!
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Yields approximately 3 cups of puree
- 2-pound sugar pie pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the pumpkin well and cut it in half around the center of the pumpkin. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and strings out of the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, into a baking dish. Add ½ inch of water to the dish. Bake the pumpkin for 25 to 30 minutes (or more if the pumpkin is bigger); the outside of the pumpkin will feel soft when you touch it when it’s done. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool. Scoop the flesh out of the skin and transfer it to a food processor or blender. Process until well pureed. Use a substitute for canned pumpkin in baking recipes.
Pumpkin Streusel Bread
Yields 1 loaf
For the bread:
- 1 cup pumpkin
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
For the streusel topping:
- ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, coconut oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. In a separate medium bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan. In a medium bowl, combine the streusel ingredients and mix well. Crumble the streusel over top of the batter, lightly pushing it into the batter. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Laura Araujo writes about food for Oklahoma Living magazine and blogs at www.mannaandquail.wordpress.com. She loves using fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch as much as possible.