Have your Halloween pumpkins and eat them, too

Few things say autumn and abundance more clearly than the sight of pumpkins piled high at our local farmers’ market or an old-fashioned hay ride with family and friends through an organic pumpkin patch.

This quintessential fall favorite lends itself to any number of entertaining uses, far beyond its jack-o-lantern heritage. Here are a couple of unexpected twists for an old-time favorite that takes one humble little pumpkin from harvest to table and on to its next life with a lot of style and little waste.

Many years ago, my mom went all out for Halloween and baked up a batch of “Pumpkin Stew” – a hearty and delicious Argentinian beef stew (sometimes called “Carbonada Criolla”) served in a 12-pound pumpkin.  Note that this recipe calls for a “sugar pumpkin” – Mom’s take on this was to brush the inside of the pumpkin shell with soft butter and coat it with sugar before baking to give the stew a sweeter taste.

The beauty of this tasty recipe is that you can get multiple uses out of one pumpkin – just remember as you’re preparing the pumpkin to save the seeds for another day’s activities.

Young kids love separating the seeds from the pumpkin flesh, so roasting pumpkin seeds makes for an easy, family-friendly activity before this festive (and nutrient rich) fruit makes its way to your compost bin. And speaking of nutrition, who knew the humble pumpkin seed is such a nutritional powerhouse rich in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins?

These days, time often runs short despite my best intentions and I must simply stop and enjoy the beauty of the autumn days around me – and marvel at the creativity of those who take a humble pumpkin and create a work of art or a family feast. Enjoy this beautiful season!