Redefine your autumn dishes with pumpkin

This seasonal gourd creates a distinct flavor used in everything from fall lattes to soups

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, it’s 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 always 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 many 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

Pumpkin Pie With Graham Cracker Crumble

For crumble:
3 graham crackers
5 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
For filling:
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground allspice
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup light cream or evaporated milk, undiluted
1 pie crust

    Break crackers into pieces. Combine with brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Toss to combine thoroughly. Spread out on a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until browned.
    Set aside to cool.
    Roll out and fit crust into a 9 to 9-1/2-inch pie plate. Flute or crimp as desired.
    Place a large baking sheet in the oven and heat to 400 degrees.
    For filling, whisk brown sugar, eggs, salt, one teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice until well blended. Blend in pumpkin, then add cream or milk and blend well.
    Pour pumpkin mixture into the pie crust. Place pie on the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350  degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.
    Place pie on a rack. Break crumble into pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pie, garnishing with whipped cream, if desired.


Sugar and Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice

    Rinse seeds well, getting as much of the pumpkin pulp off as possible. Pat dry with paper towels. Toss seeds with the butter, sugar, and spices.
    Spread coated seeds in a shallow baking sheet lined with nonstick foil or parchment paper,  and bake in a 300-degree oven, turning from time to time, for 45 to 60 minutes, until browned and crunchy.


Vegan Pumpkin Risotto

1 diced onion
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoons vegan margarine or butter

    Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat for three to five minutes, until mostly soft. Add rice and cook, stirring, for a minute or two to lightly toast the rice.
    Slowly add the white wine, then add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Allow liquid to cook off, stirring frequently, before adding the next 1/2 cup.
    When almost all the vegetable broth and the rice is nearly cooked, add pumpkin, fresh ginger, nutmeg, fresh basil and vegan margarine or butter. Stir well and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
    Heat another minute or two until everything is thoroughly heated through, stirring frequently and serve immediately.


Pumpkin French Toast

For spiced cider syrup:
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups apple cider
1 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, about 2-1/2 inches long
For French toast:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 to 12 slices bread
2 tablespoons butter

    For syrup, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When butter stops foaming, add apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil, stirring. Cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until reduced to about one cup. Syrup will thicken as it cools.
    For French toast, whisk milk with pumpkin, eggs, 1/2 cup brown sugar, vanilla, one teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Pour into a wide, shallow bowl.
    Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and coat with a few teaspoons of butter.
    Soak two to four slices of bread in the pumpkin mixture for a few seconds, turning to coat both sides. When the butter foams, arrange the soaked bread on the griddle and cook two to three minutes, until browned on the bottom. Turn and brown the other side.         Transfer to a shallow lightly buttered or a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and keep warm in a 200-degree oven while cooking the remaining French toast.
    Serve with the spiced cider syrup.


Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for skillet

    In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and spices and whisk to blend.
    In another bowl, beat eggs with milk, canned pumpkin, vegetable oil and vanilla.
    Stir milk mixture into the dry ingredients until well blended.
    Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-low heat with a little oil. Spoon batter, 1/4 cup at a time, onto the griddle. If the batter is too thick, add a small amount of milk to thin. The batter should spread slightly when dropped on the griddle.
    Cook pancakes on one side until the edges look dry and they are firm enough to flip. Flip and brown the other side.


Quick Pumpkin Soup

4 14-ounce cans or 1-1/2 32-ounce boxes chicken broth
2 cups frozen corn
1 onion, finely chopped
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
1 cup half and half light cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

    Combine chicken broth, corn and onion in ​a large saucepan, then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, until onion is tender.
    Stir in pumpkin, spoonful by spoonful, blending well using a wire whisk until the pumpkin is fully combined. Cover, then simmer five to 10 minutes longer. Add the half and half, salt, pepper and thyme and stir well.
    Heat two to three minutes, until steaming, but do not boil. Serve immediately.


Spiked Pumpkin Pie Grilled Cheese

For pumpkin butter:
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 shot whiskey or spiced rum
For grilled cheese:
2 slices hearty bread
3 tablespoon soft goat cheese
2 tablespoon pumpkin butter
1 tablespoon candied nuts
1 tablespoon salted butter

    Spray a crockpot with nonstick spray, then add all the pumpkin butter ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Cover and cook on high for two to four hours. Stir and scrape the sides every hour or so.
    When thickened and creamy, remove from heat and cool. Store in an airtight jar with a fastened lid.
    For grilled cheese, smear or crumble goat cheese onto one slice of bread. Top with pumpkin butter, then sprinkle with candied nuts.
    Add the rest of the goat cheese to the other slice of bread. Place bread, cheese side down, on top of the other slice.
    Smear butter onto the exterior of the sandwich and cook in a cast-iron skillet or a panini press over medium-high heat until the crust is golden, the goat cheese has softened and sandwich is warm in the middle. Flip if needed.
    Once sandwich is done, let it sit for a minute before cutting in half and serve immediately.


Pumpkin Seed Brittle

1-1/2 to 2 cups pepitas
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup corn syrup, white or light
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

    Pour pumpkin seeds into a small bowl; set aside.
    Combine vanilla and baking soda in a small cup or dish and set aside.
    Combine water, syrup, sugar and salt in a deep medium saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer so it is in the mixture but isn’t touching the bottom of the pan. Cook sugar mixture over medium heat, frequently stirring, until sugar has dissolved and mixture reaches 285 to 290 degrees on the thermometer.
    Add pumpkin seeds and continue cooking, constantly stirring, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees, the hard-crack stage. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla mixture, along with the butter.
    Pour candy mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet generously coated with butter. Stretch or spread gently with a silicone spatula if necessary. The candy will set and harden in 10 to 20 minutes.
    Break brittle into smaller pieces and store at room temperature in an airtight container separated by pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper. The brittle will keep for two to four weeks.


Vegetarian Pumpkin Lasagna

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
Dash pepper
9 pieces no-cook lasagna noodles
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

    Saute mushrooms, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in two teaspoons olive oil until soft, then set aside.
    In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, half-and-half, sage, pepper and remaining salt.
    Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11-by-7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles.
    Layer another 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce on top of the noodles, spreading sauce to cover the edges of the noodles well. Top with about half the mushroom and onion mixture.
    Layer half of the ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese and a third of the Parmesan cheese.
    Repeat with another layer of noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and the cheeses. Top with the remaining noodles and sauce. You should have a third of the Parmesan cheese reserved.
    Cover lasagna with a lid or foil and bake in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes.Uncover, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is well melted.
    Let lasagna stand at least 10 minutes before slicing.


Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta

16 ounces pappardelle pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup pumpkin or winter squash puree
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, optional
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
Optional garnishes:
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced fresh sage
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

    Melt butter in a wide saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook two minutes, stirring, until garlic is soft and fragrant.
    Add pumpkin and cook three minutes, stirring frequently, until excess moisture cooks off. Add heavy whipping cream and stir to combine. Sprinkle in salt and cayenne. Simmer until mixture has thickened slightly.
    Add cheese, stir to combine and cook until cheese is melted into the sauce. Keep warm over very low heat.
    Boil pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Retain about a cup of pasta water, then drain pasta.  
    Toss pasta in the sauce and thin as needed using the reserved cooking liquid. Season to taste. Top with additional Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper or other garnishes, if desired. Serve immediately.


Spiced Pumpkin Bread

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup coarsely chopped raisins, optional
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
    In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
    In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs, then beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Stir pumpkin into egg mixture.
    Gradually add sifted dry ingredients to the pumpkin and egg mixture, stirring well after each addition. Fold in walnuts and raisins, if desired.
    Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt cake pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 75 to 80 minutes, until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
    Cool it on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.
    Sprinkle cake with powdered sugar or drizzle with a vanilla glaze, if desired.


Stuffed Shells With Pumpkin Bacon Sauce

24 frozen stuffed shells
1 pound bacon, diced
1 cup onion, finely diced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken stock
3-1/2 cups milk
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups Fontina cheese, grated
    Heat oven to 350°F.
    Place shells in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish that’s been coated with cooking spray.
    Sauté bacon in a medium-size saucepan 10 to 12 minutes, until browned. Drain bacon on a paper towel-lined plate.
    Remove some of the bacon fat from the pan, leaving about 1/4 cup. Add onions and sauté six to eight minutes, until translucent. Return bacon to the pan, stir in flour, then add chicken stock and milk. Bring mixture to a simmer and let it thicken, stirring constantly.
    Add pumpkin purée, rosemary, thyme, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer, then pour evenly over the shells and top with grated Fontina cheese.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and browned on top.


Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Muffins

3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, raw or roasted
5 tablespoons softened butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen, coarsely chopped)
Cinnamon sugar for garnish

    In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds, constantly stirring, until lightly browned and aromatic. Set aside.
    In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
    In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Blend well. Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. Stir to blend.
    Fold in cranberries and 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds. Fill 12 lined muffin cups about 3/4 full.
    Sprinkle muffins with remaining toasted pumpkin seeds and cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.





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