Foods Popularly Associated with Fall
On CNN’s website, in an article entitled, “5 Foods You Should Eat This Fall,” Keri Grans wrote, “As the weather is getting cooler, the produce choices are heating up. Eating healthy may seem harder come fall, when favorite produce options dwindle and less familiar ones appear.
“In addition, foods in season during fall may appear less appealing – especially if you aren't sure how to prepare them, or are feeding a family of less adventurous eaters. But in addition to the nutritional benefits of foods such as Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, you'll find another positive: the exponential number of tasty ways in which they can be prepared.”
Keri listed five foods that should be eaten in the season of fall: pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, pears, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.
In this ravioli recipe, pumpkin is highlighted. Grans (2014) stated, “Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie are traditionally associated with this fruit, but there are other ways to incorporate pumpkin into your daily life. The meat of the pumpkin is worth having more than one day a year thanks to its high percentage of vitamin A, carotenoids, and fiber.”
Cindy Ott, professor of American studies at St. Louis University and author of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon, says that she started looking into pumpkins when she was helping a friend who is a pumpkin farmer: "I started asking, 'What's going on? Why are these people driving 30 miles or so from their homes to buy this vegetable that they don't even eat?”
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Ott says that pumpkins and some other types of squash are "botanically indistinguishable," but the image of a round orange pumpkin is a nostalgic draw. "It's a vegetable that represents this idyllic farm life, and the best sort of moral virtue. And Americans have become attached to that," she says.
So this ravioli recipe’s main ingredient would be, of course, pumpkin. Now what exactly is ravioli?
Where Did Ravioli Originate?
Roberta Roberti of Italia Living discusses ravioli’s origins in her article, “Ravioli – Little Bundles of Italian Joy.” She stated:
“Like other pasta types, the introduction of ravioli to Italian cuisine has been traditionally attributed to explorer Marco Polo. According to legend, Polo was so enchanted with the stuffed dough dishes he found in China that upon his return to Italy, he encouraged cooks to replicate them.
“We know today that this was just a tale of the romantic age of exploration. Although it’s not clear what the actual origins of ravioli are, there is evidence that they’ve been around since at least the 14th century. (Pasta itself has been around since ancient Roman times, but specific shapes and types evolved over the centuries.)
Ravioli has cousins around the world in the form of Russian pelmini, Polish pierogies, Tibetan momos, Japanese gyoza, Jewish kreplach, a variety of Chinese dim sum, and many others. Apparently, everyone loves stuffed dough.”
In another article by Maurizio Caggiano of JMomo, a small artisan pasta producer in the Campania region of Italy, stated:
“It is no accident that ravioli is the first kind of filled pasta to be documented between the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century, when a Savona farm-worker made his employer a loaf of bread, meat, and ravioli during the grape harvest.
“The origin of the word ravioli is unknown. Some people say that it derives from rabiola, a small turnip, others that it comes from rovigliolo (similar to the Italian word groviglio, meaning “mesh,” which might perhaps refer to the filling). Others believe that the pasta was simply invented by a cook called Ravioli, who created dishes for the Genoese lords residing at Gavi Ligure, a strategic stronghold of the Republic. At the end of the thirteenth century, the raviolus is mentioned in the chronicle of Fra Salimbene of Parma.”
These are interesting tidbits of ravioli’s history. When you eat it, you can remember its rich culture and history just as it is about to be served at your table.
What You Need to Know about Choosing Pumpkins
Now in choosing and buying pumpkins for cooking, there are a few things to consider. Here are three tips from Good Housekeeping:
- Buy firm, bright-colored pumpkins, free from cuts or nicks.
- Mini pumpkins have a rich, sweet flavor.
- Other cooking pumpkins include sugar, cheese, and pie pumpkins. They are often cooked and used for pie filling, but canned solid-pack pumpkin is a very consistent, high-quality product.
Christine Gallary of The Kitchn also provided guidelines in choosing the right pumpkin for cooking:
“When shopping for pumpkins, look for the ones usually generically labeled "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins." Some specific names are Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina (which are white), Cinderella, and Fairy Tale. Cinderella and Fairy Tale pumpkins have hard, thick skins but still have delicious flesh inside.
“Choose pumpkins between 4 to 8 pounds, and don't worry if the outside looks a little dull — as long as you don't see any big bruises or soft spots, it’s fine. Pumpkins have a long shelf life and can keep for months at cool room temperature.
“And if only the big carving pumpkins are available, choose a winter squash like butternut squash instead for the best results!”
The Benefits of Pumpkins
Pumpkins have the following benefits:
- Pumpkins help maintain good eyesight – A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.
- Pumpkins help regulate blood pressure – Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health. Studies suggest that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Decreasing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt.
Increased potassium intake is also associated with the reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, and preservation of bone mineral density.
- Pumpkins help in weight reduction – Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.
A fiber-rich diet seems to help people eat less, and thereby shed pounds. A 2009 study found that people who ate a whole apple before lunch (the fiber is in the skin) consumed fewer calories throughout the meal than people who ate applesauce or drank apple juice, WebMD reported.
- Pumpkins possibly reduce the risk of cancer – Research has suggested a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta-carotene and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Beta-carotene has also been shown to hold back the development of colon cancer in some of the Japanese population.
The authors of the study concluded:
"We found a statistically significant inverse association between higher plasma lycopene [a type of beta-carotene] concentrations and lower risk of prostate cancer, which was restricted to older participants and those without a family history of prostate cancer."
Pumpkins contain a wealth of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A cross-sectional study of older African-American women showed that eating three or more fruit servings per day was associated with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. It also led to slower progression of the disease.
Easy Pumpkin Ravioli
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
450g pumpkin puree
1 scoop Momental MIND Nootropics
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup slivered almonds
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup butter
36 pcs wonton wrappers
80g feta cheese
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese, grated
Sage, sliced very thin
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic until aroma is released. Add pumpkin puree, salt and pepper, and chili powder. Stir consistently until simmering. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In another pan, toast almonds and pine nuts, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl.
- Use the same pan in toasting the skillet, brown the butter over medium heat. Allow to bubble and set aside.
- Assemble ravioli: Layer 18 pieces of wonton wrapper. Using a pastry brush, stroke beaten egg whites in each wrapper. Add a small cube of feta cheese and surround with cooked pumpkin sauce. Place another wrapper on top and press the edges prevent air pockets from forming. Work quickly so as not to dry out the wonton wrapper.
- Bring a saucepot of water to boil and cook three raviolis at a time.
- Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle browned butter, nuts, cheese, and sage on top.