Ok, I’ll admit it — I’m one of those people. You know, the people that go completely pumpkin-crazy from the beginning of fall until the first sign of gingerbread? I put pumpkin into everything from brioche dough to pasta sauce, reveling meal after meal in its’ sweet and savory goodness.
I can’t help but wonder — why is pumpkin so appealing anyway? Honestly.
While I’m sure it’s one part versatility, one part nostalgia (homemade pumpkin pie, anyone?), and one part marketing (you can thank the Starbucks PSL for popularizing ‘pumpkin spice’) I also want to believe that we go crazy for pumpkin every fall because it’s one of a handful of foods that we still eat in season — pumpkin is special because we don’t eat it year-round.
We all know that eating with the seasons is better for the environment, better for our health, and better for our bank accounts but is it possible that sheer gastronomic enjoyment is another reason to eat more seasonally? Can humdrum, always-available fruits and vegetables like apples, green beans, or spinach become as exciting as pumpkin if we buy them fresh at the peak of their individual seasons?
I think so.
Now, I’m not saying that you should never eat a berry during the winter or a root vegetable during the summer — I’m just suggesting that you shift your consumption; that you buy more fresh, local, in-season produce and truly enjoy what nature has to offer. Your meals will taste better and you will help our food system become a little bit more sustainable.
Just something to think about.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, head to your farmer’s market or local supermarket and pick up a pumpkin or two — they’re bountiful this time of year. Chop the pumpkin into equally sized pieces (be sure to remove the seeds and fibers), sprinkle the pieces with salt, and then lay them flesh-side down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin in a 400-degree oven until it’s tender (about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces). When the pumpkin cools you can scrape the flesh out of the shell and puree it in a food processor. Store your puree in the refrigerator and use it in a variety of recipes — like this sweet and crunchy pumpkin pie granola!
Easy Pumpkin Pie Granola
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
½ cup almonds, walnuts, or pecans, roughly chopped
⅓ cup millet
½ cup unsweetened, shaved coconut
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (recipe below)
¼ cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
¾ cup pumpkin puree
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the oats, nuts, millet, and coconut in a large bowl. Stir until combined.
Next, place the brown sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and pumpkin puree into a medium bowl and stir until fully combined.
Then, pour the pumpkin spice mixture into the bowl of oats and stir until all of the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
Dump the granola out onto a baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. Bake the granola in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes — stirring it to break up any clumps and prevent burning — every 15 minutes.
Allow the granola to cool completely on the baking sheet before storing it in an airtight container at room temperature.
Don’t have store-bought pumpkin pie spice on hand? Mix up a batch of your own with this simple recipe.
Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all of the spices and stir until evenly mixed. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.