At a shabbat meal at my culinarily gifted sister-in-law, Dalia’s, table, we were served homemade pumpkin butter to spread on our challah. Pumpkin is a vegetable, of course, and to see my kids slathering it thickly on their bread was a delight to someone who, like me, strangely delights in watching kids eat well. (Is that a thing?) Anyway, she sent me the recipe, which turned out to be adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates. My only tweak was to de-sweeten it a touch, since the aromatic spicing more than compensates, and we could all do with less sugar, especially our kids. Mine didn’t notice the difference.
When I told a friend about this recipe, she said she always just bought the Trader Joe Pumpkin Butter, which she says is delicious and, obviously, easier. I checked out the label, though, and despite the short ingredient list, notice in the photo that both the second and third ingredients (and they are always listed in order of descending amount) are sugar and honey. (As far as your body is concerned, these are basically the same.) Then, notice that one tablespoon of the pumpkin butter contains 9 grams of sugar! That’s over two teaspoons of sugar in there! Since 1 Tbsp = 3 tsp, this means that 2/3 of this product is just sugar. Even though it requires more work, the recipe below features vegetable with a little added sweetener, rather than—as in the Trader Joe version—sugar with a little added vegetable!
- 1 cooking pumpkin (2.5–3 lbs)
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional, my kids dislike the flavor)
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375F. Rinse off pumpkin, cut in half and scoop out seeds. Spray a baking sheet, place pumpkin pieces face down and roast for about 45 minutes until pumpkin is soft enough to scoop out. Roast the seeds separately, they are delicious: spread them on a baking sheet, lightly spray with olive oil, sprinkle a little salt, and roast at 350F until lightly browned.
- Let pumpkin cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh, and add to your food processor with all remaining ingredients. Puree till smooth, adding a little water if needed to get the right consistency. You don’t want it too liquidy, but it has to be spreadable.
- Transfer to a pot set on low, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add more lemon juice, if desired, and possibly a little more sugar, if you must.
- Cool and serve with whole-grain bread. Keeps in fridge for up to three weeks. I froze half and it defrosted beautifully.