The arrival of fall means pumpkins are in season in Ontario! Not only are pumpkins fun to carve, they are also delicious and nutritious. Pumpkins are an excellent source of Vitamin A, iron and protein. The seeds and the inside flesh of a pumpkin can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Grab a pumpkin and try a recipe this fall!
Buying and storing pumpkins
- Check out a local pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkin. Many farms offer more than just picking pumpkins, making it a fun family adventure outdoors!
- Buying local foods helps support farmers so they can continue to grow fresh and affordable produce.
- Look for small pumpkins with firm and smooth orange skin as they will have a good flavour for cooking. Large pumpkins with thin walls are less flavourful for cooking, but are perfect for carving! You can scoop out the seeds from a carved pumpkin and roast them for a tasty and healthy snack!
- A whole pumpkin can keep for several months in a cool and dry location. Once you cut your fresh pumpkin, it can stay wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Cooking with pumpkin
- Cut a pumpkin open and scoop out the seeds and the fibre strands from the centre.
- Pumpkins can be baked, boiled, steamed or cooked in the microwave. When the pumpkin is cooked, the flesh is easily scooped out from the hard peel and can be mashed or puréed.
Try this pumpkin recipe:
Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Makes: 6 servings
12 jumbo whole grain pasta shells
1 1/4 cups non-fat ricotta cheese*
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated*
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup pasta sauce
- Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and separate onto baking sheet to let cool.
- In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, parmesan, and spices. Save 1 Tbsp. parmesan for topping.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Use a baking dish that holds all of the pasta shells in a single layer.
- Spread pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Fill each shell with about 3 Tbsp. of pumpkin mixture, and place shells close together on the sauce in baking dish.
- Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and bake for 15 more minutes.
- Serve with a side salad or your favorite side vegetables!
*Choose low-sodium, low-fat cheese when possible
Recipe adapted from www.foodhero.org
Adapted from unlockfood.ca. Visit unlockfood.ca for more information on pumpkins and healthy eating.
Brought to you by Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services