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WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW: PUMPKINS!
Whether carved as a jack-o-lantern, chucked in a pumpkin-throwing contest or eaten in a favorite pie recipe, this gourd-like squash is fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free, plus a good source of vitamin C and excellent source of vitamin A. Pumpkins that are small and green can be eaten in the same way as squash or zucchini.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pumpkins are one of the most popular crops in the U.S., with 1.5 billion pounds produced each year. Top pumpkin-producing states include California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Weigh-off competitions of giant pumpkins are a popular activity at festivals across the country, with one of the world’s largest pumpkins weighing more than 1,800 pounds! Placer County boasts numerous farms that produce pumpkins, including Amber Oaks Raspberries in Auburn, Pilz Produce at Hillcrest in Penyrn, and The Flower Farm and Horton Farm Pumpkin Patch in Loomis. Other great places to stock up on the fall favorite are Rickey Ranch Pumpkin Patch and Otow Orchard and Fruit Stand in Granite Bay.
SELECTION AND STORAGE:
When selecting a pumpkin, consider ones that are firm and heavy for their size. A good pumpkin should have a dull finish, be free of blemishes and include an intact stem. A two- to three-pound pumpkin will feed about six guests in a fall-flavored side dish. For cooking purposes, this smaller size features a tender, flavorful flesh. Pumpkins should be stored unwrapped in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. If a pumpkin is cut, the pieces should be wrapped and refrigerated.
HEIRLOOM PUMPKIN PIE WITH WALNUT CRUST
Recipe courtesy of ‘The Art of Real Food’ by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
Single crust for 9-inch pie:
- 3/4 cup walnuts, finely diced
- 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, finely packed
- 1 tsp. Mandarin zest
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine walnuts, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, zest, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Pour melted butter over mixture and thoroughly mix with a fork. Press evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes.
For the filling:
- 1 Winter Luxury pumpkin, 4 to 5 pounds, seeds removed, cleaned, cut into chunks
- 10 oz. Gina Marie cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pumpkin chunks in a large steamer basket, cover and steam until tender. Cool. Remove pulp from skins and place 2 1/2 cups of pulp in a bowl, purée with hand mixer. Set aside. In a separate bowl, use hand mixer to combine cream cheese, sugar, spices and salt until light and smooth. Add vanilla and eggs. Add pumpkin pulp and blend thoroughly. Place in baked crust and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the pie center has just set. Cool. Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 8-10