Pumpkin: Fall’s Ultimate Ingredient

decorate‘Tis the season … for the pumpkin! The ushering in of fall’s cool, crisp air reminds us of our penchant for pumpkins as one of the season’s most loved harvests – and most delicious and flexible ingredients.

Whether boiled, steamed or baked, pumpkins are on trend right now and a great way to add texture, flavor, and vibrancy to just about any dish. Also, pumpkin is a healthful menu addition; it’s low in calories and sodium, but high in fiber, protein, iron, vitamin A and beta-carotene, which as an antioxidant is thought to help reduce risk of heart disease and some cancers.

As we watch the pumpkin trend grow this season in the food service industry, here are some fun trend facts*: while pumpkin pie is a seasonal staple, a recent analysis of takeout orders from GrubHub shows that the most popular dishes featuring pumpkin are now curries, cheesecakes, and ravioli – with pumpkin pie accounting for just 3% of all pumpkin-related food orders.

Get Cooking. With over 40 varieties of pumpkins available, it might prove difficult to choose just one to feature on menus this season. So, try the Cinderella, Baby Bear, Fairytale, New England Pie, and Sugar Pumpkin varieties for cooking.

Get Creative. Here are a few more great pumpkin ideas to play with: warm, spiced pumpkin muffins; roasted butternut and acorn squash soup topped with pumpkin seeds; spaghetti squash and sage pumpkin seed pesto; savory pumpkin, cranberry stuffing; or seasonal crisp to entice the senses with a pumpkin-infused, apple, brown sugar-oat crumble, topped with spiced whipped cream.

Guests are sure to embrace pumpkin as this season’s ultimate fall flavor ingredient … again and again.

additional information/photography courtesy of allaboutpumpkins.com