Celebrate Fall with Pumpkins Posted October 25, 2018 Carina Hayek, NGI Director of Marketing & Admissions Few things are as evocative of fall as the pumpkin. At its most basic, it’s pumpkin spice latte season. For many kids, pumpkins carved into jack-o’-lanterns are a sign that Halloween – and the candy that it brings – is right around the corner. And as we near Thanksgiving, pumpkins baked into a pie are often a polarizing dessert at the end of a day filled with family and friends, food, and fun. October 26 is National Pumpkin Day (according to National Today, there are 294 food holidays), making this the perfect time to learn more about the fall favorite. [n.b. A quick pumpkin tip for Halloween: the Teal Pumpkin Project is an initiative to raise awareness of food allergies and encourage inclusion of all trick-or-treaters through offering non-food treats. For more information, visit their website.] Pumpkins are a winter squash, and are characterized by mature seeds, a skin that’s hardened into a tough rind, typically ranging in color from yellow to orange. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible including the flowers, leaves, flesh, and seeds, and lend themselves well to sweet and savory dishes. Nutritionally, pumpkins are packed with vitamin A, or beta-carotene, which is important for growth and development, the immune system, and good vision. At Natural Gourmet Institute, we celebrate the pumpkin in all its preparations. In the recipes below, pumpkins and winter squash, including Kabocha or Japanese squash, are interchangeable. A nourishing breakfast – Try our Pumpkin Pancakes, developed by NGI Chef Ann Nunziata, which are vegan and gluten-free. You can even toast some pumpkin seeds to use as a topping instead of the pecans A warming dinner – Pumpkin Ravioli? Yes please! This hearty fall dish gets a bit of crunch from pecans and is beautifully complimented with sage. (Recipe below) Wind down – We can’t leave out our Best Holiday Pie Ever, developed by NGI Chef Sue Baldassano, with its perfect blend of warming spices (the PSL has nothing on this!). This recipe calls for another winter squash, Kabocha, or Japanese pumpkin. You can use either squash in this preparation. Pumpkin, Sage, and Pecan Ravioli For the Dough 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 1 cup unbleached white flour 1 tablespoon salt About ¾ cup hot water Combine flours and salt in food processor. With machine running, add just enough hot water to make stiff dough that forms a ball. Make sure to add water slowly (over at least 30 seconds) to ensure you don’t add too much water. Dough should not be tacky or sticky. Remove dough from food processor and knead on lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at least 15 minutes. (The dough can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for several hours.) For the Ravioli 1 winter squash (2 to 2 ½ pounds), e.g., kabocha or butternut (about 2 cups cooked) 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 onion (12 ounces), finely chopped (1 cup) ½ cup chopped pecans 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage Salt black pepper Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Cut squash in half from stem to bottom and place cut side down on parchment-covered sheet pan. Bake about 45 minutes, until fork tender. Let cool a few minutes, then remove and discard seeds. Scoop flesh into bowl and mash with fork. Measure out 2 cups of mashed squash, reserving any extra. Warm oil in 10-inch sauté pan. Add onions and sauté until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add pecans and sauté few minutes more. Add squash, mixing until heated through. Stir in sage leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Roll out dough; fill and form raviolis. Bring 12-inch sauté pan filled with 2 inches of water to simmer. Add raviolis and cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on dryness of pasta and whether or not they were frozen. Use slotted spoon to gently lift raviolis out of water. Drain briefly for a moment, then serve immediately.