Forget about scary Jack-o-lanterns, festive centrepieces and plain old pie! Pumpkins are a nutritious, delicious and incredibly versatile ingredient for a range of recipes. We put together this list of ideas for cooking with pumpkin, just in time for Fall.
1. Beautiful Braising
Braising is usually reserved for tough cuts of meat, such as pot roast or short ribs, and involves slow-simmering in seasoned liquid. But it’s also a wonderful way to cook Autumn vegetables such as pumpkin. Replace the squash or rutabaga with pumpkin in a braised vegetable recipe you’ve already tried, or create your own dish. For the seasoned liquid, try apple juice, chicken broth or an Asian-inspired blend of soy sauce and orange juice. Fully submerge chunks of pumpkin in a deep saucepan or Dutch oven, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
2. Roasted Miniatures
For a side dish that’s quintessentially Fall – and adorable – cut the top off of mini pumpkins and scoop out the pulp and fibres. Add pumpkin-friendly spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice. Before roasting, drizzle melted butter or maple syrup inside. Bake the pumpkins at 350°F for about half an hour and they’re read to enjoy on their own or stuffed with your choice of savoury filling.
3. Sublime Seeds
After you’ve carved the pumpkin for Hallowe’en, don’t discard the seeds. Instead, toss washed seeds in lemon juice, melted butter and seasoning salt or sugar and cinnamon. Spread on a large baking sheet and bake at a fairly low temperature (250-300°F) for about an hour. Eat the seeds alone or add to nut or granola mixtures for a family-friendly snack.
4. Pumpkin and Potatoes
Add colour to your Thanksgiving plate this year and give mashed potatoes a new lease on life by using pumpkin chunks as well as standard spuds. Boil your peeled and cut yellow or baking potatoes with cubes of peeled pumpkin in chicken or vegetable broth until all the veggies are tender. Mash with plenty of milk and butter. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice and nutmeg – plus a dollop of sour cream - just before serving.
5. Soup’s On!
The mellow flavour of pumpkin is the perfect base for hearty Autumn soups. Hunt down recipes that break from tradition by combining pumpkin with unusual and complementary flavours such as roasted garlic, fresh ginger, cumin, curry powder, lemon grass or fresh basil. You may be surprised to find that many cuisines, including Thai and Indian, have recipes for pumpkin soup containing their signature flavours such as the sweet basil and chiles in Thai soups or the cardamom and tamarind in Indian soups.
6. Pasta Perfection
Pumpkin-stuffed ravioli and pumpkin risotto is cropping up on Italian restaurant menus everywhere, often paired with creamy sauces and hint of fresh nutmeg or curry. Get fancy with a from-scratch risotto or look for simple recipes involving braised pumpkin plus spices and a dash of cream or coconut milk. Use penne, fusilli or thick linguine to hold the dish together and garnish with shaved parmesan or goat cheese.
7. Lovely Loaves
Replace the banana or zucchini in your favourite loaf cake recipe with pumpkin puree for an unforgettable take on a time honoured classic. Introduce a flavour reminiscent of pumpkin pie to your creatively delectable loaf by adding nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice to the mix, too. Serve warm, with whipped butter or creamed honey on the side!
8. Classy Cheesecake
If you’re hosting a dinner party or asked to bring dessert to a gathering this Fall, surprise guests with a tasty and unique pumpkin cheesecake. Search online for a recipe or find one in your favourite dessert recipe cookbook. Look for a recipe with a cinnamon-nutmeg crust and a nutty caramel topping or maple drizzle. You can also decorate the plate with swirls of caramel, maple or butterscotch sundae topping before serving.
9. Super Cider
Hot pumpkin-apple cider is the perfect end to an invigorating Fall walk! To make this soul-warming drink, combine equal parts pumpkin purée - canned or fresh - and apple cider in a saucepan, set to medium-high. Throw in nutmeg or cinnamon and simmer for about twenty minutes (stirring frequently) or until the puree has blended with the cider. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a little whipped cream and serve.
10. Delicious Dip
Make a quick and tasty pumpkin dip by mixing four parts unseasoned pumpkin puree with two parts cream cheese, plus a few tablespoons of brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg and allspice. For parties, serve it in hollowed out miniature pumpkins with graham crackers, ginger snaps or fresh fruit on the side for dipping.