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Nontraditional pumpkin recipes

DANIELLE HUNTER/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Pumpkins are a fall favorite that can be used in a variety of ways in both sweet and savory dishes. Shown is a roasted pumpkin with shallots dish by Danielle Hunter.

Pumpkins everywhere. It seems that no other food symbolizes the fall season quite like pumpkins. This is an amazing food, with a beautiful taste, that can be transformed into just about anything you can think of. There is such a broad range of uses in both sweet and savory dishes.

Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America. There have been seeds from related plants found in Mexico that date back from 7000 to 5500 B.C. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for large melon which, is “pepon.” Throughout the centuries this name has been changed several times and finally was known to the American colonists as pumpkin. Native Americans used pumpkins as a staple in their diets long before the pilgrims landed. They used the entire pumpkin, down to drying pieces to weave them into floor mats.

Pumpkins contain potassium and vitamin A, and everything is edible even the flower blooms. The Native Americans also used to use the pumpkin for the crust of savory pies and never the filling. The origin of today’s pumpkin pie is said to have come from when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin tops, removed the seeds and filled them with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked over the dying coals of the nights after dinner fire. The pumpkin was among one of the first crops grown for human consumption in North America.

There are so many different ways to prepare pumpkins for the fall season that your first question should be savory or sweet? Make sure you are aware of all the different varieties and choosing the best one for your taste. You also can use most of the other fall squash varieties and sweet potatoes for a fresh pumpkin replacement and-or a different flavor profile with the exception being spaghetti squash as it has a whole different texture and requires different cooking methods. Here are just a few recipes to help this year.

Pumpkin and chicken chowder

Yield: 16 1/2

cups servings

2 red bell peppers

2 jalapeno peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 leeks

1 pumpkin (baking variety)

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 ear corn kernels

3 cans chicken broth or stock

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Roast the peppers: preheat oven to broil. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and cook under broiler rotating occasionally until skin is blackened. Seal the charred peppers in a plastic bag or container covered tightly with saran wrap. When cool enough to work with peel, deseed and cut into small pieces then set aside for later.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until brown. Remove chicken and keep warm. Add leek and pumpkin, and sautee for about 5 minutes. Add the flour, cumin, salt and pepper to taste and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn, peppers, chicken, broth, oregano and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, garnish with sour cream and enjoy.

Roasted pumpkin with shallots

Serves 8

1 pumpkin

6 shallots

6 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh oregano

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Combine the pumpkin, shallots and garlic in the roasting pan and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl, pour the mixture over the pumpkin mixture and coat evenly. Roast the mixture turning the pumpkin and shallots twice during cooking, until brown and tender. About 60 minutes. Serve immediately.

Brighten up your Morning with a simple but extremely tasty pumpkin topping for your favorite oatmeal. You can make a small amount of the pumpkin mixture to last the whole week. Combine the canned pumpkin or roasted pureed pumpkin with some small amounts of seasonings. We used a combination of vanilla extract, nutmeg, honey, cinnamon and pecans. Simply mix all the desired amounts of these together until you reach your ideal taste. You can store the mixture in an airtight container to last you the week. Prepare your favorite oatmeal how you love it then you can add a dollop of your pumpkin mix and some cream for a delicious & hearty start to the day.

Our recipe:

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg small pinch

1 tablespoon Vanilla

3 tablespoon toasted pecans

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy or store under refrigeration for later. Pumpkin season is here so enjoy all that comes with that. Find your favorite recipes by trying out new ones and be sure to carve those Jack-o-lanterns for everyone to see.

Hunter is Chef Hosch and Ann’s sous chef. She received a degree in culinary arts from Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in 2002. After working in the field for several years, she went back to school at The Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 2005 with a degree in baking and pastry arts. She has worked in several different kitchens on both sides of culinary and baking.