My all time favorite holiday is pumpkin day. Okay, most of you have never heard of pumpkin day and there are no greetings cards for it. This explains why it is such a joy! Once a year, I enjoy spending the day with those I love outside in Fall weather. The day must involve turning trees and the purchase of a pumpkin but everything else including fresh donuts, apple cider, hayrides, corn mazes, ornamental gourds and corn are optional.
This year we headed out to Fox Hollow’s Fall Festival and it was a big event. There was lots for kids to do including pony rides and a giant hay castle. There was live music and local food and thanks to getting lost on the way due to an interstate closure, we saw lots of turning trees. We also got our annual pumpkin.
Now, here is where I have to confess that I had picked out the next two recipes for using up a pumpkin after it has served as Halloween decoration, but before I could do so, the squirrels, gnawed through the top of our pumpkin and ate the whole thing top down. But, I was not to be deterred. I went ahead with my original recipes and just adapted with what I had from our weekly farmer’s box. I was really surprised to find that the roasted pumpkin seed recipe is just as good, if not better with winter squash seeds. I used the seeds from a large butternut squash.
Toasted Pumpkin or Winter Squash Seeds
1 cup seeds
1 T. olive oil
½-1 tsp. salt
Wash and remove the squash from seeds. Lay out on tray to dry. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. When ready to toast, place tray in oven just long enough to fully dry. Remove and toss seeds in a bowl with oil and salt to coat well. Cover baking sheet with foil and return seeds, spreading evenly. Toast for 15 minutes or until seeds start to pop. These are great on a salad or just as a snack with wine as we had them above.
Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells
24 jumbo pasta shells (I actually used lasagna noodles and just rolled them up around the stuffing)
1 T. olive oil
2 ½ c. fat-free ricotta (I used the new Philly cheese fillings)
15 oz. pumpkin puree (thanks to the squirrels, I used sweet potato puree)
¾ c. plus 2 T. grated Romano
1 large egg white
2 minced garlic cloves
1 c. chopped basil
26 oz. tomato sauce (I used a jar of the spaghetti sauce I put up in the blog months ago, but store bought is fine)
Cook pasta and drain. Drizzle with oil and set aside. Stir together ricotta, pumpkin, squash or sweet potato, ¾ c. Romano, egg white, garlic and basil. If you just used regular Ricotta also add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread sauce in bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with stuffing and arrange in pan. Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining ricotta and bake 15 minutes more. (You can also make and stuff the shells the night before and bake the next day.)