Celebrate autumn with everything pumpkin

This seasonal fruit, and the spices that often accompany it, can be used in savory and sweet dishes

    Pumpkin seems to be everywhere right now.
    There are pumpkin lattes, pumpkin spice, pumpkin cocktails — not to mention the traditional pumpkin carving, pumpkin painting and pumpkin pies found this time of year.
    So it’s time to incorporate pumpkin into autumn meals. After all, pumpkin os a savory ingredient that can star in soups, stews, pancakes, quick breads, lasagnas and more, but it also goes well in sweets, such as cookies and bars.
    For a festive touch to your meal, serve soup or stew in bowls made from hollowed-out pumpkins. Cut the tops off several small pumpkins, remove the seeds and scrape inside walls clean. Wash thoroughly with warm water, place pumpkins on a baking sheet and bake in a 250-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the inside begins to soften.         Use the “bowl” warm for soups or stews or, with a cold meal, allow the shell to cool.
    You don’t need to use fresh pumpkin puree in dishes. Try canned puree if you’re pressed for time or just don’t want to bother with the mess. When you do make fresh puree, freeze some so you have it on hand.
    For an easy snack, roast the pumpkin seeds. When carving your jack-o’-lantern, remove the seeds and separate them from the pulp. Thoroughly wash the seeds in warm water, then spread them out on a cookie sheet.
    Sprinkle the seeds generously with salt and bake in a 350-degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. Check every five minutes and stir, adding more salt to taste. Check seeds to see if they are done by taking a sample out, allowing to cool and tasting. If the insides are dry, they are done. Allow to cool and serve.
    There are numerous variations of this basic formula, enough to satisfy every taste. For example, make taco lime seeds by combining the seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, baking them in a 275-degree oven for 20 minutes and drizzling them with 1 tablespoon lime juice.
    If you like pumpkin pie, combine the roasted seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, then spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
    To satisfy the bacon lover in your life, spread the unroasted seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cut four slices of bacon into pieces and sprinkle them on the pan, then bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes, until the bacon is crunchy and the seeds are golden.
    Following are recipes using pumpkin from delish.com.




Pumpkin Sage Polenta

3 cups water
1 cup polenta
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
1 teaspoon sage, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

    In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, polenta and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking periodically. Lower the heat and let the polenta simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the pumpkin and sage, and continue stirring for 15 to 20 minutes, until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
    Stir in Parmesan cheese and butter. Serve immediately while hot and creamy, or if you prefer, place in a square dish to cool and serve in slices.


Pumpkin Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock or water
15 ounces black beans
7.5 ounces garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon cumin powder
2 tablespoons chili powder

    In a large pot or skillet over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in olive oil about five minutes, until soft.
    Chop tomatoes into small chunks. Add pumpkin, tomatoes, vegetable stock, black beans and garbanzo beans. Add half the cumin and half the chili powder, stir well, and season with salt and pepper.
    Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Add the remaining cumin and remaining chili powder, if desired.
    Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Serve in soup bowls garnished with chopped green onion.


Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

1/2 cup milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Kosher salt
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 graham cracker, crushed

    In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring milk to a boil. Stir in oats and salt, reduce heat to low, and simmer five minutes, until oats are tender and creamy.
    In a small bowl, mix together canned pumpkin, one tablespoon brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Stir pumpkin mixture into the oatmeal and sprinkle with cinnamon.
    In a small bowl, mix together butter, crushed graham cracker, and remaining brown sugar.
    Serve oatmeal in a bowl topped with graham cracker topping.
    Makes one serving.

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

For pop tarts:
2 refrigerated pie crusts
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch salt
Egg wash
For glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
Orange sanding sugar

    In a medium bowl, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt until smooth.
    On a lightly floured surface, roll pie crust into a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Cut dough in half crosswise, then into quarters lengthwise. Transfer pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate. Repeat with remaining dough.
    Spoon a large dollop of the pumpkin mixture into the centers of half of the dough rectangles. Top with another piece of pie crust and press down around the edges. Crimp the edges with a fork, then use a toothpick to gently poke holes in the tops of each pastry. Brush pop tarts with egg wash, then bake in a 350-degree oven about 20 minutes, until golden.
    Let cool for about 10 minutes on pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Spoon onto cooled pop tarts, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and sanding sugar.
    To make egg wash, mix 1 beaten egg with 2 teaspoons milk or water.
    Makes 16 servings.


Cheesy Pumpkin Lasagna

1/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried sage
3 15-ounce cans pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella
3 cups shredded fontina cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles

    In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and onion and cook about five minutes, until fragrant and soft. Deglaze pan with vinegar and cook about four minutes, until mostly evaporated. Stir in sage.
    Add pumpkin, maple syrup and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Heat about five minutes, until warmed through.
    In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 2 cups fontina, and egg.
    Smear a thin layer of pumpkin mixture on bottom of greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then cover with noodles. Add a third of the pumpkin mixture, followed by a third of the cheese mixture. Repeat two times, using all pumpkin and cheese. Top with a layer of noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and fontina.
    Bake, covered, in a 375-degree oven for 35 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to 400 degrees and cook about 15 minutes, until cheese on top has melted. Let rest five minutes, then slice and serve.
    Makes 8 servings.


Pumpkin Alfredo

12 ounces fettuccine
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

    Cook fettuccine in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain.
    In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté one minute, until fragrant. Stir in rosemary and pumpkin. Pour in milk and stir until evenly combined, then stir in Parmesan and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer five minutes, or until desired consistency.
    Take off heat and toss pasta in the sauce. Garnish with parsley and more Parmesan, if desired.
    Makes four servings.

Pumpkin French Toast

For French toast:
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Kosher salt
1 loaf brioche, sliced into 1-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For pumpkin butter:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Kosher salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Maple syrup, for drizzling

    In a shallow baking dish, whisk eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt. Place bread slices into pumpkin mixture and let soak about 30 seconds per side.
    In a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, melt one tablespoon butter. Cook two slices bread at a time for three to four minutes per side, until golden. Repeat with remaining bread.
    In a medium bowl, whip softened butter with pumpkin, maple syrup, pumpkin spice and a pinch of salt until light and fluffy.
    Top French toast with pumpkin butter, sprinkle with powdered sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.
    Makes four to six servings.

Pumpkin Hummus

1 cup  pumpkin purée
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Pita chips, for serving

    In a large food processor, blend all ingredients except pita chips until smooth. Season with salt and spoon into a bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds, paprika and cinnamon.
    Serve with pita chips.
    Makes eight servings.


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

For cupcakes:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
For frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt

    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
    Put liners in two muffin tins, then fill liners three-quarters full with batter. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice and beat until no lumps remain, then add vanilla and a pinch of salt.
    Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and swirl frosting onto cooled cupcakes.  
    Makes 20 cupcakes.


Pumpkin Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 pound pumpkin, preferably sugar pie
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish

    Heat oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until golden.
    Halve, peel and scrape out seeds of the pumpkin. Cut into chunks. Add pumpkin chunks and broth to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer about 30 minutes, until pumpkin is fork-tender.
    Remove pot from heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also let the soup cool, then blend in a blender. Stir in cream and season to taste.
    To serve, ladle soup into bowls, add a swirl of cream, and garnish with pepper.


Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 14-ounce loaf brioche
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Caramel sauce, for serving

    Slice bread into one-inch cubes and leave out overnight to dry out or place bread on baking sheet and bake in a 200-degree oven for 20 minutes, then cool.
    In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, yolks and whole eggs. Add pumpkin, milk, cream, bourbon, vanilla and spices. Add bread and toss to combine. Let bread soak 10 minutes.
    Transfer mixture to a large, buttered baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until custard is set. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.
    Serve with caramel sauce.




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