Crisp air, cooler temperatures, and shorter days are all signs that autumn is upon us. Suddenly, every coffee and donut shop is offering pumpkin-flavored treats. When most of us think of pumpkin, we automatically think of sweet things, such as pumpkin spice latte, muffins and, of course, pumpkin pie. However, there are many delicious savory pumpkin dishes to be enjoyed.
There are a variety of pumpkins in our grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Smaller pumpkins have names like “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” With their firm, sweet flesh, they are an excellent choice for cooking and baking. Use these small pumpkins for roasting, making soups, and for making homemade puree for pies—their flavor and smooth, roasted consistency is better than larger pumpkins, which tend to have stringy, watery flesh.
Sugar pumpkins are about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. From one pumpkin of this size, you’ll typically be able to get the same amount of puree that you do from a 15-to-16 ounce can of pumpkin, or perhaps a little bit more. Roasting them is a breeze:
Start with 2 sugar pumpkins; rinse with warm water to remove dirt. Cut pumpkin one in half, using a sharp knife; scoop out seeds with a metal spoon. Lay the pumpkins face-down in a large baking dish and add ¼ inch water. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on size) or until tender, using a fork to check. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
Your roasted pumpkin can now be mashed or pureed to use in your favorite recipes. Here are three flavorful recipes perfect for this fall…
SAVORY PUMPKIN DIP serves 6
Just the thing to serve hungry guests while waiting for dinner! We like this dip best served with celery sticks, but whole wheat, rice, and club crackers are delicious as well.
1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, softened (low-fat is fine)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup pumpkin puree (more if you want a stronger pumpkin flavor)
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans or hazelnuts
2 to 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Recipe adapted from gimmesomeoven.com.
CHILEAN PUMPKIN serves 6
This is a spicy pumpkin dish similar to spoon bread. If you prefer milder flavors, feel free to reduce the spices to your taste. It’s delicious as a savory side to many different meats. Braised short ribs are a favorite pairing.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped mixed red and green peppers
2 to 3 large cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper
4 cups cooked pumpkin, mashed or pureed (canned is fine)
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
4 beaten eggs
1 cup grated cheddar
Sauté onions, peppers, garlic, spices, and salt and pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent and peppers are beginning to soften (about 8 minutes). Add sauté to pureed pumpkin, along with corn and beaten eggs. Mix well. Spread into a buttered 2-quart casserole, and top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes covered, then 15 minutes uncovered.
The casserole is now perfectly done and ready to serve, but I like to broil the dish at this point in order to get a golden brown top. If you are so inclined, just switch from bake to broil and keep a close eye on it until it becomes browned and bubbly.
Recipe adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.
CURRY PUMPKIN SOUP makes 12 cups
Comforting, satisfying and delicious, this recipe has been a family favorite for years. It yields a large pot of soup, but it’s very easy to cut the recipe in half.
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 sugar pumpkins, roasted and insides scooped out (or 2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree)
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
pinch of nutmeg and ground ginger
GARNISHES Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, or croutons
Melt butter in soup pot and sauté onion and carrots until soft; stir in potatoes and pumpkin. Add stock, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes. Add curry, nutmeg and ginger. Puree soup with immersion blender or food processor. Return to saucepan, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with your choice of garnishes.
Recipe adapted from Susan Branch’s Autumn cookbook.