Does it pain you to think that you’ll carve a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern in the coming days, only to watch it disintegrate and end up getting tossed? There are a number of ways your pumpkin can live on!
-Are you composting? Toss your jack-o-lantern onto the mass! You might even end up with a few seedlings sprouted from the pile.
-Did you know butterflies love fresh pumpkin? We are witnessing the migration of the monarchs right now in Houston. And they love fresh pieces of pumpkin to eat. The trick here is to keep fresh pumpkin chunks in an air tight container so the pieces stay fresh. You don’t want to give the caterpillars mold as mold can kill them. Place the chunks cut from your masterpiece into a container and refrigerate it. Bring out little bits over the course of the coming weeks in areas where you’ve already seen the butterflies visiting.
-The old-time looking Fairytale pumpkins that are popular this year are high in fiber, loaded with antioxidants and deliciously edible. Transform these decorative beauties into a pie, a hearty pumpkin soup or roast up chunks without the skin!
-Seeds, seeds, seeds. The guts of the pumpkin can be eaten in more ways than one. Rinse off the strings and pulp in cold water. This is best done as soon as you pull the seeds out of the pumpkin. Place the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking tray. Make sure the oil coats all of the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees F until toasted, about 25 minutes. 10 minutes into cooking be sure and toss them around. Allow to cool and store in an air-tight container. It also wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t share with you my new favorite way to enjoy pumpkin seeds….
-Sikil Pak, a Mayan hummus like dip made with roasted pumpkin seeds. In Mayan the word ‘sikil’ means “tomato” and ‘pak’ means “pumpkin seed.” What’s a better appetizer to have on Dia De Los Muertos? Vegan and so unique, there is no other dip with a flavor quite like this. Our favorite recipe is adapted from Robb Walsh’s version of Sikil Pak, found in his book The Hot Sauce Cookbook:
2 cups hulled pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic
1-2 habanero-type chiles, stemmed and halved (We are using fresh Caribbean red hot chile’s from the garden which we bought from Buchanan’s)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
A few seeds for garnish
Tortilla chips, crackers or toasted pitas to serve
Roast the pumpkin seeds dry in a large frying pan over high heat, until they begin to pop, turning the seeds frequently. Transfer seeds to a bowl to cool down.
Husk the tomatillos, rinse them well and put them in the hot frying pan along with the garlic. Roast for a few minutes or until the tomatillos and garlic is gently charred.
Combine the roasted seeds, tomatillos, garlic, chiles, olive oil and lime juice into your food processor, adding water as needed until the mixture turns into a smooth paste. Add water as needed to get the mixture turning. The finished dip should be about the consistency of chunky peanut butter.
Serve in a bowl, garnish with a few roasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy as a delicious dip.
If you haven’t picked up your carving pumpkins yet, stop by Buchanan’s today! We also have marigolds to add fall color to your pots along with beautiful gourds and Fairytale pumpkins to continue decorating with until Thanksgiving. Happy carving!
Note: The red zinnia flowers in the top photograph were grown from seed, purchased at Buchanan’s Native Plants. For more tips on growing from seed, visit the garden center today.