The pumpkin belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, and is commonly used in cooking, both in Italy and in other culinary traditions. Its seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and prevent the possible presence of benign prostatic hypertrophy in mature men, and in elderly men.
The origin of the pumpkin is rather uncertain.
Certainly, there's an awareness that various peoples, such as the Egyptians, Arabs, Greeks, and even the Ancient Romans grew this vegetable as a food for the less well-off. Once emptied of the pulp, they would use the dried pumpkin shell as a salt container or to make bowls. However, it is difficult to accurately determine its actual area of origin.
The pumpkin, in any case, started to gain more notoriety after Columbus's discovery of America, when various kinds were brought back to Europe. Pumpkins, however, were still defined as a food for common people. In time, though, during the long periods of crop failures, which this vegetable didn't succumb to, there came to be a change in opinion, and pumpkins began to be appreciated by the noblest palates.
In Anglo-Saxon countries, pumpkins, beyond their use as a food, are famous for their being made into Jack-O'-Lanterns, i.e., the characteristic and rudimentary lanterns of Halloween time. Pumpkins, in fact, drive away evil spirits that roam the earth by trapping them inside with their flame.
WHY IT SHOULD BE EATEN
Rich in minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc, and fundamental for the immune system and for hair health, pumpkin seeds are rich in linoleic acid and in vitamin E, which provide antioxidant properties.
The steady eating of these seeds, in addition, has a beneficial effect on bladder muscle tone, and they help to prevent urinary tract disorders, such as inflammation and cystitis.
We recommend the consumption of about 2-3 tablespoons per day.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or lightly browned in a frying pan or in the oven.
You can eat a handful as a snack or add them to salads, to bread dough, or sprinkled on top of breads and focaccias, as an enrichment. You can roast and eat the seeds of any type of pumpkin. So, if you use a pumpkin in a recipe, don't throw the seeds away. Rinse them under running water and place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Salt them and then put them in the oven set at 180° C [350° F] until they become crunchy.
By cooking pumpkin seeds in water, or in milk, you obtain a decoction that has a flavor similar to barley water. It relieves insomnia and soothes bladder irritation.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in oil and when they come into contact with air, they tend to become rancid. Keep them in an airtight container and eat them within two months, otherwise freeze them for longer storage.