The bright orange color is a giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. In the body, conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A performs many important functions in overall health. Additionally, pumpkins are low in calories and high in fiber. A cup of cooked pumpkin has only 49 calories, and three grams of dietary fiber. It's also a source of iron, potassium and trace nutrients.
When selecting a pumpkin for cooking, the best choice is a "pie pumpkin" or "sweet pumpkin". These are smaller than those usually reserved for jack-o-lanterns and the flesh is sweeter and less watery. However, you can still use the larger variety for cooking.
Choose one with one or two inches of stem left. If the stem is cut down too low, the pumpkin will decay quickly.
Avoid pumpkins with blemishes and soft spots.
When cooking pumpkins, the shape is not important; however, the pumpkins should be heavy. As a general guide, one pound of raw untrimmed pumpkin yields about one cup of finished pumpkin.
Grilled Pumpkin Bowl with Veggies:
Two (2) 3- lb. pumpkins or four (4)1 1/2 lb striped white pumpkins or a combination of both
2/3 cup melted butter, margarine or olive oil
1 T packed brown sugar
1 T chili powder
1/4 t ground cinnamon
4 large yellow, red, and or orange sweet peppers, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
2 T cooking oil or olive oil
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grape tomatoes
Snipped fresh cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 325 F To make pumpkin serving bowls, cut off the top 1/4 of the pumpkins; discard tops; coop out stringy pulp and seeds. Use seeds in Toasted Pumpkin Seeds if you wish). Place pumpkins bowls, cut side down, in 3 quart rectangular baking dish. Add 2 Tablespoons water. Bake for 30-45 minutes or just until tender. (Microwave for 10 min)
2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, chili powder and cinnamon. To grill pumpkin bowls, brush inside and cut edges of pumpkins with some of the butter mixture. Set aside remaining butter mixture. Place pumpkins, cut side down, directly on the rack of an uncovered grill over medium-hot coals. For an indoor grill, pre-heat for 10-15 minutes. Grill for 10-15 minutes or until browned. Removed from grill to platter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl toss sweet peppers and onion with oil, salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch skillet or grill to medium heat . Add vegetable mixture; cook and stir 6-8 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes; cook and stir 1-2 minutes more or until tomatoes are heated through. Stir in reserved butter mixture. Toss gently.
4. To serve, place grilled pumpkin bowls on a serving platter. Spoon vegetable mixture into pumpkin bowls scooping up some of the pumpkin pulp. Sprinkle with snipped cilantro.
Makes 6 side-dish servings.
Each serving: 315 calories, 15 g fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 423 mg sodium 43 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein. Daily valued: 453% vitamin A, 529% vitamin C, 11% calcium, 21% iron.