Pumpkins are the quintessential symbols of Fall. As September turns to October here in New England, local farms haul out their harvest of pumpkins and the crowds go wild. Above you see one of my favorite images of Fall, taken from the Inn at Ocean's Edge in Camden, Maine. This image just screams "It's Fall Everyone!" and you can even see a lovely ghost pumpkin over on the right side. Pumpkins are not just the ushers of Fall or the glowing faces of Halloween, pumpkins are delicious, versatile and oh-so-easy to make and serve for any occasion!
Pumpkins are a wonderful super food for babies and can be given to babies from the age of six months and older. If you are wondering why I have posted about pumpkins in the Vegetable Bin, it is because most people think of pumpkins as vegetables, not as fruits. In fact, pumpkins are classified botanically as fruits yet culinarily classified as vegetables.
If you are looking to prepare and serve pumpkins in any meal, in any dish or baked good and as a baby food, please be sure you do not buy pumpkins like those shown above. Large pumpkins that are not "sugar" or "pie" pumpkins do not make for good eating nor are they good for making pumpkin baby food. These larger pumpkins are fibrous and stringy and for the most part, not too tasty at all. If you cannot tell the difference between pumpkins, just ask your grocer or local farmer to show you. Typically, a sugar or pie pumpkin is more round in shape than a "jack-o-lantern" pumpkin and weighs in at under five pounds. Buying a sugar or pie pumpkin under five pounds will help ensure that your pumpkin dish comes out tasty and delicious, without strings or fibers.
Baking pumpkins is simple and is the best way to cook a pumpkin to retain the most of its nutrients. To bake a pumpkin simply cut it in half or in quarters, place the cut pumpkin into a shallow baking dish with a bit of water then place it in a preheated 400 degree F oven. The cooking time can vary but expect the pumpkin to take 25 to 50 minutes to fully roast.
When using pumpkin as baby food, puree the cooked pumpkin and serve. You can mix in a variety of different fruits and vegetables with the pumpkin; try mixing pumpkin with applesauce or pumpkin with peaches and sweet potatoes for example. Pumpkin is also yummy when mixed with grains like oatmeal or rice and it makes a wonderful addition to quinoa!
Savory Pumpkin Puree: A Tasty Pumpkin Baby Food Recipe (8-10 months)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 to 2 cups pumpkin peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (butternut squash may also be used.)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- pepper, rosemary, basil
- pinch of turbinado sugar if desired
Heat the oil in a medium saucepot then add the onion and squash cubes. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent then add the vegetable stock.
Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and simmer until the squash is tender enough to puree. Season to taste with pepper, rosemary and basil
You may make this a sweet puree by using nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon as the spices instead of the savory spices and herbs.
Toss this mixture with cooked brown rice, couscous, lentils or even quinoa for a hearty meal.