As this especially steamy summer segues into fall, we’re beginning to turn our heads toward the seasonal tastes that we know and love. Goodbye watermelon and iced tea, hello mulled cider and pumpkin! It’s easy to bring out the old standards, like pumpkin pie and those unbelievably good pumpkin spice lattes, but maybe it’s time for a change. If you’re looking to really make the most out of this season’s pumpkin harvest, read on to find out my favorite ways to use that most versatile of squashes.
This squash makes a fabulous vegetable backup dancer to the proteins in Thai or Indian curries. It’s easy to adapt your standby curry recipe to fit it, too! All you need to do is sauté about two pounds of chopped raw pumpkin with your curry spices and paste, then simmer it with coconut milk and vegetable stock until the pumpkin becomes tender. The flesh of squash will absorb the curry spices; you’ll love how its sweetness compliments the warm spiciness of your curry paste.
Believe it or not, pumpkin goes fabulously with chickpeas. If you’re looking for a quick hors d’oeuvres for a fall-themed party, this recipe takes about 30 seconds to make. Simply combine a whole can of unseasoned pumpkin puree and a dash of pumpkin pie spice with a 32 oz. container of pre-made hummus. Of course, you can and should add a few dashes of cayenne pepper to it if you’re a heat fiend. The resulting creamy concoction tastes like a pleasant fireside chat feels. This dish is nicely complemented by a bowl of multigrain pita chips.
Preheat your oven to 325˚F. In a large bowl, mix half a can of pumpkin puree, ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ⅓ cup of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a couple hefty dashes of pumpkin pie spice until everything becomes well-distributed. Mix in your granola fixings — that could include coconut, oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, whatever! Spread your granola mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for about a half hour, stirring intermittently. Once this mix cools off, it’ll harden up and become the most pumpkin-y breakfast cereal you’ve ever had! (I also like to put a palmful of this granola on top of vanilla ice cream.)
This is a recipe idea that I got from my Anglo-Saxon friends, who would regale me with stories about their Old World grannies who tended to pickle everything in sight. Though I wouldn’t leap to have a taste of their fermented pigs’ feet or rutabagas, pickled pumpkin actually tastes much better than it sounds. It’s actually incredibly easy to make, especially if you can get your hands on some pre-chopped pumpkin flesh. All you need to do is put together the pickling liquid. I like to make it equal parts white sugar and white vinegar, with a handful of cinnamon sticks and whole cloves to add some fall spiciness. Boil the liquid to dissolve the sugar and pour it over the pumpkin, which should be in a heatproof bowl. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, then pour the whole mixture into a pot, but without the whole spices. Boil the pumpkin until it becomes transparent, then let the mixture cool. Transfer the pumpkin and pickling liquid into small mason jars — they make great gifts!
Now this is my all-time favorite pumpkin recipe, especially since it doesn’t require the kind of hacking and chopping that pumpkins generally require. The recipe that I use again and again comes from Food and Wine magazine — you can find the complete rundown here. Basically, instead of meat and tomatoes, you use Swiss chard, heavy cream, sage, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree to hold this lasagna together. The salty richness of Parmesan cheese makes a great counterpoint to the slightly bitter greens and sweet pumpkin. Frankly, I prefer this variation over normal lasagna!
Soleil is a former chef, with an encyclopedia of recipes floating around in her head. Nowadays, she applies her culinary expertise to the wonderful world of fancy picnic baskets.