The pumpkin belongs to the same family as the melon, watermelon, cucumber, courgette, squash and marrow and is rich in iron, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc. It also contains high levels of vitamins A and E, which are regarded as antioxidants as they neutralise free radicals in the body and protect against cancer.
This nutritious vegetable is widely used in cooking in the U.S. and in the Caribbean, and is also popular in some parts of Europe and in Australia. However, for some reason the British did not take to the pumpkin and it rarely appears in British recipes.
Native Americans introduced the pumpkin to early European settlers during the 17th century. The pumpkin was extremely versatile to them and they baked, boiled, fried, dried, roasted the pumpkin on an open fire and even cut the vegetable into strips and made mats from them. Who says you can't do anything with vegetables!
Today, pumpkin pie consists of an unbaked shortcrust pastry base that is filled with a sweet, spicy and creamy pumpkin purée or custard, which is then baked in the oven until the filling has set and the crust has browned - delicious! The pie is then allowed to cool before serving with whipped cream or a large dollop of ice cream.
Prior to making the pumpkin filling, the pumpkin must be cooked. This can be done by cutting the vegetable into pieces and either steaming or boiling for 15 - 20 minutes until soft enough to mash or by roasting in a hot oven for 30 minutes.
Also note that the pumpkin is naturally sweet and therefore you do not need to use a lot of sugar in your recipe, and for those following a low-fat diet, the cream can be substituted for milk or soya milk.
Below are two recipes for pumpkin pie that we think you will enjoy making and eating.