Pumpkin isn’t just a scary face anymore.
Carving pumpkins seem to dominate the Fall season, their faces appearing on plastic buckets and billboards, their representatives occupying porch steps and window sills. When we think of pumpkin patches and Halloween, we have carving pumpkins in mind. And that’s sad. Pumpkins have become one of the few vegetables – if not the only one – that has been turned from a food into a decorative device to be discarded. Etching and cutting a design into a vegetable should not be intuitive.
Instead, we should look away from the beasts and monsters, and turn our sights towards sweeter pursuits. Pie pumpkins, unlike the carving pumpkins, are sweet and tender, and perfect for cooking. Their meat is not stringy or overly moist, like the carving pumpkin. Instead of bats and owls and other winged creatures of the night, pie pumpkins give us the bounty of Fall, from pumpkin bread and pumpkin pancakes, to pumpkin souffle and pumpkin rolls.
And these examples are just that – examples. Pumpkin can spice tea and coffee, create muffins and its accompanying butter, or calmly meld into soups and risotto. But of all the choices – and I think Caitlin has tried them all – pumpkin pie may still be the best place to start.
Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Crust
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus cooling
YIELD: 10 Servings
WHAT TO GRAB:
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
3/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds, divided (I used whole, roasted, salted seeds)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 cups pumpkin puree (recipe here)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup of unsweetened soy milk
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you need to roast your pumpkin seeds, spread them on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 8 minutes, or until you hear them start to pop.
2. Chop 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds by pulsing them in a food processor. Pour the crushed seeds into a medium mixing bowl. Add one package of graham crackers (about 9 whole crackers) to the food processor, and process until the crackers have been ground into fine crumbs. Repeat with a second package. This should yield 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs.
3. Add the graham cracker crumbs, ground ginger, and granulated sugar to the pumpkin seeds. Whisk the melted butter into the mixture, until fully incorporated. Pat this mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9- or 10-inch pie pan and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
4. Bake the crust at 450 degrees for 13 minutes and remove from the oven. Allow the crust to cool for 10 minutes. Gently pat the crust down if necessary.
5. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.
6. Whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolks, soy milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the crystallized ginger and mix until smooth. Pour the mixture into the baked graham-cracker crust and bake for about 1 hour, or until the filling is set.
7. Remove the pie from the oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. If you can stand to wait, I’ve found it tastes even better after a few hours in the refrigerator. Serve with pumpkin seeds and/or whipped cream on top!