See a letter from Ellen about the donation campaign. Your help matters!

Pumpkin and Winter Squash Recipes

For more info about pumpkins and squashes, see this info sheet.

Celebration Circle Banana Squash Roast and Tasty Roasted Seeds

50 servings
marinates 1/2 hour
bakes about 1 1/2 hours

12-15 pound banana squash, halved and seeded
1 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice powder
garlic, crushed, to taste- about 4 cloves
lemon herb blend (salt-free)

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and set aside. Mix the oil, tamari, 5 spice powder and crushed garlic to make a basting sauce. Brush the cut surfaces generously with the olive oil-tamari-5 spice mix-garlic, some should pool into the seed pit. Let squash marinate cut side up for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make roasted seeds, rinse the seeds in a strainer or colander,working your hands through them until all the squash threads are broken away. The threads can go into a stock pot. Dry the seeds, soak them in tamari or the basting mix. You can bake these at the same time as the squash, but put them in a separate dry baking sheet.

Spray or oil a baking sheet with sides, adding 1/4 cup water to the pan. Bake squash halves cut side down, at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until nearly tender. Turn cut side up, sprinkle on the lemon-herb mixture and drizzle the rest of the oil mixture across both halves, brushing or spooning it on all surfaces. Bake an additional 20 minutes at 350.

To serve the squash, slice each half into about 1 inch slices, like a meatloaf.

Microwave Directions: Cook squash cut side down in a microwave safe dish. You will have to cut the squash in quarters because of its size. Add inch of water and cook on high for approximately 10-15 minutes or until tender. Scoop out and add the marinating mix or a sweet mix to taste, then mash. For a sweet sauce, combine 1 tbs. soft butter, 3 tbs. brown sugar, and cup of syrup. Drizzle mixed ingredients over squash and heat to serve.


All pumpkin, melon and squash seeds are edible, and a source of free vegetable protein. The hulls are edible too, or can be slipped off. Seeds from a ripe squash are plump and uniform. Pumpkin seeds and their oil contain a great combination of vitamins, trace elements, fat and protein long recommended as a traditional support for prostate health. Consuming pumpkin seeds is easier with hull-less seeds found in the Triple Treat, Hungarian Mammoth or Lady Godiva cultivars.

Remove the seeds from squash with a large spoon. Working through your fingers under running water, remove the vegetable strands attached to the seeds. Rinse and drain seeds, but do not allow to dry all the way. Place damp seeds in a bowl.

Season seeds to taste. Let sit in the seasonings about 30 minutes. You might use salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper; or oil and tamari; or Italian seasoning and salt. You might add a little sugar or other sweetener to offset the spices if you don't want it too spicy.

Oven roasting methods: Spread the seeds out on a lightly greased baking pan and bake in a 300-degree oven for approximately 1 hour. You may want to periodically shake the pan around to ensure even cooking. Seeds will get crisp as they cool.
Or, spread them on an oiled sheet pan and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, raising the temperature to 400 degrees during the last 5 minutes to brown lightly. Salt if desired and no salt was used in seasoning before roasting. Store in an airtight container.

Stove Top Roasting Method: In a 1-quart stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, roast: 1 cup rinsed pumpkin seeds in 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil for about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat when they puff up slightly and start to change color. Add salt to taste. Let cool to serve.

A nut milk similar to almond milk can be processed from raw, hulled seeds, or add 1-2 tablespoons to the soaked soybeans when you make soy milk in your machine. Also, pPumpkin or squash seed oil is pressed from roasted seeds. Like sesame oil, it has a strong, nutty flavor and is used to lightly season a dish or salad after cooking.

Baked Stuffed Pumpkin Guide: Vegetarian and Meaty variations

You are going to prebake this pumpkin a little, stuff it deliciously, and carve it at the table. It makes an impressive entree or a memorable side dish.

Take one "sugar" pumpkin, medium-sized and cut off the top (set aside). Scoop out seeds and fibrous membrane (bake seeds later).

Place the hollowed out pumpkin in a pyrex or earthenware dish and add 1-2 inches of water to the dish. Pre- bake the pumpkin by putting the top back on the pumpkin and placing dish and pumpkin in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees. Bake approx 1/2 hour. Remove pumpkin from oven.

The ingredients for the inside of the pumpkin are placed in 2-3 inch layers on top of each other -- kind of like a Shepherd's pie. The bottom layer could be either cooked millet or cooked corn polenta (mush), or even brown rice, however the main choice for farmers is mashed potatoes.

The second layer is a bean dish such as cooked red beans (kidney or pinto) with kombu, flavored with a little cumin and tamari.

The third layer is cooked mixed savory veggies of your choice -- onion, hiziki, carrot. Or mushroom, seitan, onion, kale.

Place the top back on the vegetable- filled pumpkin. Replace in the oven in a pan with sides that has a little water in the bottom of the pan, and cook until the outside of pumpkin can be easily penetrated with a fork (or chopstick) and the filling is really steaming hot. This will take an hour or more, depending on how big the squash is and how thick the filling- for example, mashed potatoes take longer to heat than cooked millet.

Remove pumpkin from oven. Take off top and allow to cool a bit. Use a big metal spoon to serve, so you get some of each layer as well as scraping the pumpkin meat well from the inside wall of the baked pumpkin.

Non-Veggie Version: Use the same ingredients, add a middle layer of pan-fried ground turkey with onion and fresh herbs loose or cooked meatballs.

Remember to place the top back on the pumpkin after cooked ingredients are in and bake until outside can be easily penetrated with a fork.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH LASAGNA with mushrooms and dried tomatoes

Vegetarian recipe

9x13 pan-8 generous servings

12 ounces dried or 1 pound fresh lasagna noodles
10 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
3/4 cups dried porcini mushrooms, or other dried (3/4 oz) (these really enrich the flavor)
1-1/3 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 ounces neufchatel cream cheese (3 tablespoons)
1 cup prepared spaghetti sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces (about 3 cups) fresh or fresh-frozen mushrooms (wild and/or cultivated) sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary OR 1/2 t. dried
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 oz) plus a bit to dust the pan
1-1/2 pounds butternut or banana squash, peeled and thinly sliced (4 cups)

In large pot of boiling water, cook noodles until barely tender (8 min for dried, 1 min. for fresh). Drain and rinse under cold water. Spread the cooked noodles on clean kitchen towels, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine sun-dried tomatoes and dried porcini mushrooms. Add 1 cup boiling water, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Lift out veggies and chop. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve and set aside.
3. Make a cream sauce: in a saucepan, heat 1 cup of the milk over medium heat until steaming. Meanwhile, put 3 tablespoons flour in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the remaining 1/3 cups milk until smooth; whisk into the hot milk and stir constantly over the heat until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens. Continue cooking and stirring for 1 min. Remove from heat. Whisk in cream cheese, then 2/3 cups spaghetti sauce and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and garlic and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms, rosemary and reserved soked tomatoes and porcini, cook until the fresh mushrooms are hot through and just wilted, about 2-4 mins. Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, stir in while heating. Add reserved soaking liquid and remaining 1/3 cups spaghetti sauce. Cook until mixture thickens, about 1 min. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Lightly oil a 9x13" baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with Parmesan cheese.
6. Smear the bottom of the prepared dish with 1/2 cup sauce. Line the bottom with single layer of noodles. Spread half of the mushroom mixture over noodles and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Add another layer of noodles, arrange butternut squash on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread another 1/2 cup sauce over all. Add another layer of noodles, followed by remaining mushroom mixture, and 2 more tablespoons Parmesan. Finish with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
7. Lightly oil a large piece of aluminum foil or coat with cooking spray. Tightly cover the dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until lightly browned and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting or serving.

Makes 8 servings - 325 ca. per serving; 13 g. protein; 6 g. fat; 58 g.
carbs; 275mg. sodium, 9mg. cholesterol; 5 g. fiber.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Ball with Beef

Yield: About 2-1/2 cups spread for crackers
Prep time: 20 minutes
Salty and sweet, with an autumn color. The pumpkin adds color and flavor and reduces fat.

8 ounces regular or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix) or any thick prepared squash puree
2-1/2 ounces dried beef slices, shredded or chopped
8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
Garnish: Short celery stalk and cilantro or flat parsley leaf
OPTIONAL paprika for enhancing color

Combine cream cheese and pumpkin, mixing until well blended. Stir in beef, cheese, pineapple, onion. Mix well. Chill at least 1 hour to stiffen slightly, then form into a large ball or log. To garnish, shape or score sides with a blunt knife to resemble a pumpkin - as tangerine segment divisions would look. To hold, wrap at this point in plastic wrap. Before serving, insert stubby celery stalk into center at top for the pumpkin ''stem.'' To one side of celery, place single leaf of cilantro, Italian parsley or basil. Center on a plate, surround with crackers. Provide a short spreader knife.

Pumpkin Red Pepper Sauce for pasta or tortellini

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep/cook time: 20 minutes
A nicely low fat, colorful change from a regular tomato sauce.
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 1-1/4 cups (1 large) chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1-3/4 cups canned pumpkin puree (about 16 ounces)
1-3/4 cups (14.5-oz. can) diced tomatoes with juice
1-1/4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (9-oz.) packages cheese tortellini, cooked, drained, kept warm

Saute onion, garlic and red bell pepper in butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, basil, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Taste for salt, adding more to taste if the chicken broth and tomatoes weren't very salty. Ladle sauce over pasta or tortellini.

Pumpkin or Squash Leather

Mildly sweet, very chewy.

2 cups squash or pumpkin puree
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
cinnamon, nutmeg, powdered cloves

Lightly oiled drying sheet or plastic sheet for drying. Dried at 140 degrees 2-3 hours for a thin layer.

Drying Pumpkin

A traditional winter food among native Americans, here is the modern variation.

Split, peel thinly, cut in 1/4" strips, steam 3 minutes until almost tender. Dry at 140 for 2-3 hours, then 130 until tough and brittle. Best refrigerated if long term. Flavor may go off if stored longer than 2 months at room temperature.