20 Pumpkin Recipes That Go Beyond Pie
As September turns into October, you may be doing all sorts of things with pumpkin in your home: You could be carving and decorating them with the kids, painting your gourds for unique fall décor, or, perhaps more importantly, harnessing the fruit's robust flavor in the kitchen while it's in season. Though you may wait until October to put out your Jack-o'-Lantern, you don't have to wait as long to put pumpkin to work in your kitchen—the fruit actually begins to ripen in September. Local farmers will continue to offer succulent, fleshy pumpkins throughout autumn, and since they hold up so well, you can often find them at local markets well into winter.
The best pumpkins for cooking are very different from those you would choose to decorate. The ubiquitous field pumpkin—which is the most common variety used in carving jack-o'-lanterns—has watery, stringy flesh, and isn't recommended for eating. Whether you're choosing to bake a classic pumpkin pie or simmering a large pot of pumpkin soup, you'll want to ask for sugar pumpkins or cheese pumpkins at a local market. They're just as widely available, but they're much better suited to cooking and baking thanks to their dense, sweet flesh.
In their original form, pumpkins can keep for up to a month in a cool spot in your kitchen. If you want to continue baking and cooking fresh pumpkin dishes closer to the holidays, try storing them in a cool cellar or, at the very least, in a refrigerator—cool and intact, they can retain their freshness for up to three months. Once you've cut into them, however, pumpkin pieces should be wrapped tightly and refrigerated; you have up to five days to use both the flesh and seeds as you see fit.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Fresh pumpkin is roasted with onion and shiitake mushrooms, then puréed to make a creamy (but cream-free!) soup. An immersion blender makes quick work of this simple, hearty soup.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream-Cheese Filling
A whole different kind of pumpkin pie, these hand-held treats are a cross between cake and cookies. A sweet and tangy cream-cheese filling is the perfect complement to the spice-rich pumpkin.
Traditional pumpkin pie gains depth of flavor with roasted fresh pumpkin and just the right amount of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Make extra pumpkin purée and freeze it so you can enjoy pumpkin desserts throughout the season.
Chocolate flatters the sweetness of pumpkin in this sophisticated alternative to pumpkin pie. A rich layer of melted chocolate keeps the crust crisp.
Pumpkin and Pecorino Gratin
Sugar-pumpkin purée is seasoned simply with salt and pepper, then baked under a crown of crunchy breadcrumbs and Romano cheese. This is a fine side dish with roast chicken or pork.
Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin
Fresh pumpkin is simmered with tomatoes, Swiss chard, roasted tomatoes, and smoky chipotle-tomatillo salsa. Serve this flavorful dish alongside grilled or roasted meat, or over rice as a main course.
White Bean and Sausage Stew in Pumpkin Bowls
All dressed up for a fabulous fall dinner party, this hearty stew is baked in sugar pumpkins. A combination of navy beans, turkey sausage, mushrooms, carrots, leeks, potatoes, and peas will please everyone at the table.
Roasted Pumpkin with Shallots and Sage
Sweet, tender sugar pumpkin is roasted with olive oil, sage, and shallots for an easy side dish on its own or tossed with rice, couscous, or pasta. In place of sage, you could use another robust herb, such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano.
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushrooms
These tender gnocchi are made with just three ingredients: baked pumpkin puree, flour, and Parmesan cheese. They're tossed with a sauce of chanterelle mushrooms, sage, and cream just before serving.
Baked Pumpkin Donuts
These divine pumpkin cake donuts are made with buttermilk and pumpkin puree and they're baked not fried. The finishing touch? Cinnamon sugar and ground pepitas—these donuts don't need frosting, they're that good.
If you have leftover pumpkin purée from your fall baking session, why not whip it into a tasty spread for toast or pancakes? Add a touch of maple syrup, butter, and salt into a mixer and blend the purée into an airy spread that you'll love at breakfast.
Sugar, spice, and pumpkin purée serve as a knockout trio in this seasonal version of a classic snickerdoodle cookie.
Citrus-Glazed Pumpkin-Carrot Cake
Carrot cake goes all out fall with the addition of canned pumpkin purée in this easy ring cake (no layers, no frosting!).
Rigatoni with Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese
This easy, satisfying pasta dish is full of tender roast pumpkin and tangy goat cheese. For an even quicker dinner, roast the pumpkin ahead of time and heat it up in the microwave just before tossing with the rigatoni.