Let’s get seasonal!

By Amanda Eakin

Some may say that the wheel is man’s greatest invention, or even TV. Or some may argue that the printing press is definitely up there (which clearly is not a widely-held belief since The Collegian is deprived of printing weekly issues – but that’s an aside). Yet others have proposed more options: modern plumbing, antibiotics, laptops.

I, however, would like to bring to light another possibility: canned pumpkin. Oh yes, canned pumpkin.

What’s so great about it, you may ask? Basically, it’s good in pretty much everything. It has been said that pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, low in calories, high in fiber, and probably cures random maladies such as brain farts.

Nutritional benefits aside, pumpkin is simply delicious. It’s nearing that spooky time of year where you can justify eating a bucket full of Twix and watching sadistic horror movies; therefore, it would be the perfect time to break out of your usual diet of ramen and candy, and attempt to take advantage of such seasonal bliss. Plus, you can wow your friends with your daring, culinary prowess.

I present to you three revolutionary ways to utilize pumpkin. Try it, eat it, and love it. You’re welcome.

1.) Pumpkin Grilled Cheese: mix together canned pumpkin (around 1 tablespoon for one sandwich), cream cheese, and shredded cheddar cheese and spread in between your favorite type of bread. Add additional fillings or seasonings to taste, such as sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. I know; my mouth is watering too.

2.) Pumpkin Chili: after browning and draining about 2 pounds of ground beef in a large pot, add an array of raw vegetables (such as onions or peppers) to the pot with the meat and cook them until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a can of kidney beans, a large can of stewed tomatoes, and 46 ounces of tomato juice. Add various seasonings to taste, such as salt, pepper, chili powder, nutmeg, and cumin. Be sure to add a couple tablespoons of sugar to enhance the tomato flavor. Then for the best part: add 1 cup of canned pumpkin and stir until everything is combined. Put a lid on the chili and simmer on low for about an hour. Serve over rice, if you like your chili awesome. Also note that measuring frightens me, so I try to avoid it.

3.) Pumpkin Pizza: in a saucepan, combine 1 cup of pumpkin and 1 cup of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth, depending on toppings. Season to taste (ground pepper, garlic salt, fresh/dried herbs, red pepper flakes, etcetera etcetera etcetera); this is your pizza, you know. Simmer until the mixture has reduced to a thicker consistency, about 15-20 minutes. Roll out store-bought pizza dough (no, this isn’t cheating) on a flat surface, and sprinkle with flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking as you flatten it into a (a) circle, if you have a handy dandy pizza stone or (b) rectangle, if you’re a college kid and only have a cookie sheet. This isn’t a beauty pageant, so don’t feel shamed if your pizza isn’t beautiful. Once your dough is beaten into submission and on your pizza stone, spread the pumpkin mixture over the dough and – after dumping a truckload of cheese over your pizza (I’d recommend either cheddar or even feta) – add whatever toppings tickle your fancy. I’d recommend chorizo, sautéed peppers, and maybe roasted and cubed squash if you are especially ambitious. Brush the outer edges of your pizza with olive oil and sprinkle with more seasonings if you like to keep things interesting. Bake at 450 degrees for 11-15 minutes if you happen to have a pizza stone that has been preheating for at least half an hour (let’s be real, this is pretty unlikely). Or, if using the cookie sheet method, bake the dough without the toppings or sauce for 5 minutes at 475 degrees to harden the crust, then proceed to add the sauce, cheese, and toppings and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Insanely delicious either way.