How To Choose A Pumpkin

In the past several years, pumpkins have started appearing on menus as savory soups, appetizers, and main courses because they are delicious and, bonus, they are packed with nutrients. Here's a quick guide to picking the perfect pumpkin and a scrumptious pumpkin pizza recipe in which to sink your teeth.

pumpkin pizza

Fall is here, the leaves are starting to turn, and the pumpkin patches are filled with beautiful pumpkins of every shape, size and color. You know what that means? That's right, it's time to hit the kitchen and cook some pumpkin! We're not talking dessert, either.

Pumpkin picking tips

Before making pumpkin pizza or any pumpkin recipe, there are a few things you need to know about picking the perfect pumpkin for cooking.

1. Jack o' lanterns are not for eating

The pumpkins grown in commercial patches before Halloween are not for eating. They were bred specifically to keep their structure as they are turned into jack o' lanterns or used for holiday decor. Pumpkin culinary rule No. 1: If a pumpkin can survive being dropped off a porch, it is not good eats.

2. Pick pie pumpkins

Instead of jack o' lantern pumpkins, opt for sugar pie pumpkins (sometimes called pie pumpkins) which are about the size of a softball. These winter squash favorites have a delicate sweetness that blends very well with other ingredients. Sugar pie pumpkins are also good to cook with because they become very tender when cooked. In fact, they are so soft you do not even need to peel them, however you certainly can after they cook because the outside skin will be chewier than the pumpkin flesh.

3. Be choosy

When you buy your pumpkin -- whether it be at the grocery store, farmers market or small pumpkin patch -- choose a sugar pie pumpkin that is free of deep tears or scratches on the surface and feels heavy for its size. Double check the flat part of the pumpkin (the part that touched the ground while the pumpkin grew) and make sure it is not moldy, soft, or torn as this is a good indication the pumpkin is rotten.

Time to get cooking!

Pumpkin Pizza

Makes 1 (10- to 12-inch pizza)

With a sugar pie pumpkin in hand, you can make this amazing pizza recipe. It does take a little time (about an hour) to make, but there is very little effort required and it's so deliciously worth it! Pumpkin and Italian food go hand-in-hand because pumpkins have an affinity for tomato or cream sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 sugar pie pumpkin, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (10- to 12-inch) pizza crust
  • 1 cup marinara
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Your favorite vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes and butternut squash, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to turn translucent. Cover and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking until they are dark brown and sweet, about 45 minutes. If adding other vegetables, add them to the onions about 15 minutes before the onions are done cooking, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the onions are caramelizing, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the flesh of the pumpkin with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake on a baking sheet or in a baking dish until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Let the pumpkin cool before cutting.
  3. You can dice the pumpkin in one of two ways. The first is to dice it into half-inch pieces. The other is to cut the pumpkin into thin slices down its width, forming pieces that look like large pepperoni rounds on a New York style pizza. This method looks neat and ensures a crisp bit of pumpkin in every bite.
  4. Increase oven heat to 400 degrees F. Top pizza crust with marinara, onions, pumpkin, and shredded cheese. Bake on a pizza stone or baking sheet until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Variation: If you would prefer a white pizza, spread goat cheese on the crust instead of marinara for an entirely different and delectable taste experience!

More mouthwatering pumpkin recipes

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Smoothie
Healthy holiday pumpkin recipes

Tags: root vegetable recipes

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