What They Are: When you hear the word pumpkin, you probably think of something large, round, orange and ripe for carving. In reality, the word pumpkin can be applied to any hard-shelled winter squash of any shape, size, or hue. They are part of the gourd family, along with honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini and cucumber. Also, botanically they are a fruit, not vegetable — from the family genus Cucubita, which grow on vines and are classified as berries. Big berries.
What To Do with Them: When purchasing your pumpkin, look for gourds that are hard. If you can scratch the skin easily with your fingernail, it’s too young. Also skip any specimens with bruises, cracks, or other damage. Choose pumpkins that feel heavy for their size. And remember that for culinary uses, bigger is not better — smaller varieties are bred for cooking, not carving. You can store uncut pumpkins at room temperature for about a month. If you keep it refrigerated the shelf life can be up to 4 months. You can also steam pumpkin when it is in season and freeze for future use.
Pumpkin is versatile and can be baked, steamed, grilled or sautéed. Popular in breads, pies, pastas, soups, stews and curries.
Pumpkins are low in calories, high in fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. And don’t forget the seeds — they are naturally high in protein and zinc.
What Some Chefs Are Doing With Them: Pumpkins are playing a large part in the menus during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week: Blu Pointe is starting things off with a Butternut Squash Soup, Butternut Squash puree, brioche croutons, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Shadows on the Hudsonhas a Kale Salad, with red grapes, candied pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and sage-cider vinaigrette. Char Steakhouse is serving up Autumn Pumpkin Bisque, with a hint of nutmeg and allspice topped with toasted coconut. River City Grille is also featuring a soup, a Butternut Squash with toasted pumpkin seeds and balsamic. Monte’s Local Kitchen & Tap Room is taking a healthy spin on delicious with a Warm Quinoa Salad with roasted pumpkin, arugula, Four Brother’s feta cheese, candied pumpkin seeds, balsamic reductions. X20 is topping their butternut squash bisque with ginger marshmallows and pumpkin seed oil.
Pumpkin takes center stage of entrees like the Cauliflower Faux risotto with oyster, shitake and crimini mushrooms, carrot escabeche, crispy kale, pumpkin seed at Kitchen Sink. Pumpkin tortellini, apple brown butter, fried sage, pumpkin seed if featured at Shadows on the Hudson Pumpkin pasta also makes an appearance at Terrapin with a pumpkin ravioli with oven dried tomatoes, pecans and brown butter-sherry sauce. They are also featuring a pumpkin seed-crusted Alaska salmon with tomatillo sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed kale. More pasta at The Stone Manor @101— ravioli, stuffed with pumpkin, apple cider cream sauce. Trattoria San Giorgio has a roasted sweet potato cannelloni with.roasted sweet potato & amaretti filling, fresh pasta, pumpkin crema, herbs, gorgonzola dolce, toasted walnuts.
Pumpkin has a natural affinity for desserts. Pumpkin Cheesecake is on the menu at Blu Pointe, 8 North Broadway, X20 and The Barley House has a Pumpkin Cheesecake Jar. The Stone Manor @101, Cena 2000, il Cenacolo, and Sapore Steakhouse are all serving pumpkin pies. Sour Kraut has a Kurbis Kuchen —sweet pumpkin pound cake with vanilla ice cream & fresh whipped cream. Ibiza Tapas has created a Coolant De Calabaza — local organic pumpkin, white chocolate soufflé, lemon foam. Pumpkin puddings are popular as well. Pumpkin bread pudding is on offer at Tagine and Eastchester Fish Gourmet. Trattoria San Giorgiohas a pumpkin budino with candied pumpkin seeds, and mascarpone whipped cream. 273 Kitchenis making a pumpkin rice pudding — sugar pumpkin, quinoa, cinnamon — and there is a pumpkin crème caramel, with spiced pumpkin seeds at Red Hat on the River.