Goodbye Halloween, Hello Pumpkin

By Habeeb Salloum

There is always that dilemma about what to do with Mr. Jack O’Lantern once the trick-or-treaters have finished their rounds. Halloween is over and what you have left is the carved-up pumpkin.  What to do with it? Well, in fact, there are many tasty options

Our kitchens can be the home to the best and tastiest pumpkin dishes. Pumpkin pie may be the popular favourite, but appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts can all include this nutritious type of winter squash. Hence Halloween is only one way to use the pumpkin. This versatile vegetable is full of healthful qualities and makes for tasty dishes. 

Pumpkin can be prepared for the table in various ways. It can be baked, boiled, fried, steamed and used as an ingredient in salads, soups, and stews.  It’s also used extensively in sweets. Candied pumpkin is delicious.  As well as traditional pumpkin pie, it can be transformed into excellent puddings, pancakes, custards, soufflés, and other desserts.

Pumpkins contain 90 per cent water, making them low-in calories. One cup of cooked pumpkin has 83 calories and only half a gram of fat.  They also have more fiber than kale, more potassium than bananas, and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron. A cup of mashed pumpkin contains a large amount of vitamin A, which is good for the eyes.

This salad is a fine example of the delights one can create with pumpkin.

Cooked Pumpkin Salad

Serves about 6

The fried pumpkin in this salad gives this dish a unique rustic taste.

4 tablespoons cooking oil

4 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

2 large tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large avocado, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

12 black olives, pitted and halved

In a frying pan, heat the cooking oil over medium-high then stir-fry the pumpkin for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place pumpkin in a salad bowl then add remaining ingredients, except olives and toss. Decorate with olives then serve.