Perfect Pumpkin Recipes

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to brush up on the best things to make with the iconic squash (other than pumpkin pie). Elevate your next fall feast with these creative recipes from local chefs. But first, learn how to pick the perfect pumpkin.

Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

  • Your pumpkin should be fully mature when it’s picked, so that it is hard enough for short-term storage.
  • Never pick up or carry a pumpkin by its stem. It is not a handle. The stem can break off very easily, leaving the pumpkin with an open wound that invites infection and rot.
  • Check the pumpkin well for soft spots and dark bruises. Once a pumpkin starts to rot, it goes downhill pretty quickly. The smallest nick is enough to let infection in.
  • Look at the bottom of the pumpkin, where it’s been resting on the cold, damp ground.

Healthy Habit: Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
One 4-pound pumpkin
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 large or 6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Carefully halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Slice each pumpkin halve in half to make quarters. Brush or rub 1 tablespoon olive oil over the flesh of the pumpkin and place the quarters, cut sides down, onto the baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes or longer, until the orange flesh is easily pierced through with a fork. Set it aside to cool for a few minutes. [2] Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add onion, garlic and salt to the skillet. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. In the meantime, peel the pumpkin skin off the pumpkins and discard the skin. [3] Add the pumpkin flesh, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Use your stirring spoon to break up the pumpkin a bit. Pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the flavors time to meld. [4] While the soup is cooking, toast the pepitas in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, golden and making little popping noises. You want them to be nice and toasty, but not burnt. Transfer pepitas to a bowl to cool. [5] Once the pumpkin mixture is done cooking, stir in the coconut milk and maple syrup. Remove the soup from heat and let it cool slightly. You can use an immersion blender to blend this soup in the pot. Working in batches, transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Securely fasten the blender’s lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you purée the mixture until smooth. Transfer the puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with the remaining batches. [6] Taste and adjust if necessary. You might want to add more coconut milk for extra creaminess/milder flavor, or maple syrup to make it a little sweeter. [7] Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle pepitas over the soup and serve. Let leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to four days (leftovers taste even better the next day) or freeze this soup for up to three months.

Holy Tequila: Día de Muertos pork chops

2 8-ounce pork chops
1 cup diced pumpkin
1 cup diced sweet potatoes

[1] Season pork chops with salt and pepper. In a hot sauté pan sear pork chops for about 3-4 minutes each side finishing in the oven at 350 degrees for about seven minutes. [2] Roast the sweet potatoes and pumpkin for about 15 minutes.

Ingredients (hash)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 ounces toasted pumpkin seeds
1 ounce white wine
1 ounce apple cider vinegar
Salt, pepper

[1] Pull pork out of the oven, set aside, and using same pan (so you don’t lose any flavor) sauté garlic and onion for two minutes. [2] Deglaze with white wine and vinegar, add roasted pumpkin, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients (apple chutney)
2-3 Granny Smith apples, diced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter

[1] In a pan add butter and apples and cook for 2-3 minutes. [2] Add brown sugar and cook four minutes. Finish with nutmeg and cinnamon. [3] Arrange the hash on a plate with pork chops and top with apple chutney.

Salty Dog: Pumpkin risotto featuring Jake Shake Seasoning

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups diced pumpkin
1/2 cup white wine
4-6 cups of hot chicken broth
Chopped parsley
Nutmeg to taste
Jake Shake Seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

[1] Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Cook garlic for a couple seconds then mix in pumpkin and rice. [2] Deglaze with wine. Lower the heat. Keep stirring, adding more stock as the rice absorbs the liquid. [3] Once the risotto is cooked and at the right consistency, season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. [4] Top with sautéed shrimp seasoned with our Jake Shake and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Charbar Co.: Pumpkin Swiss burger with fried sage

Ingredients (Serves 4)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds fresh ground beef
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
4 slices Swiss cheese
9 fresh sage leaves
4 hamburger buns
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine beef, pumpkin, garlic powder, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Form four hamburger patties and set aside. Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Place hamburger patties into the skillet and cook for five minutes on the first side. Flip and cook an additional four minutes. The last minute, place cheese slices on top of each of the patties. Once the cheese has melted and the burgers are cooked, remove from skillet and set aside on a plate. [2] In another skillet preheated to medium heat, add 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add the onion slices, salt and pepper to the skillet. Sauté until soft and golden brown (about five minutes). Make sure to stir often to keep the onions from burning. Remove from skillet and set aside when done. [3] In another skillet preheated to medium-high heat, add the remaining butter to the skillet. Add sage leaves and fry them in the butter until crispy about three minutes. Remove sage leaves with a slotted spoon and set aside. To assemble, place burger patty on a bottom bun. Top patty with caramelized onion and the top bun. Using a toothpick, place two fried sage leaves on top of the bun to make sure they stay in place. Serve immediately.

Charbar Co.: Pumpkin and acorn squash risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
2 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 small acorn squash
1/4 cup goat cheese (optional)
1 red bell pepper, small dice
Zest from one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

First cut the rind off the outside of the squash. Next cut it in half and scoop out all of the seeds. Now cut into a small dice and roast it in a 350 degree oven until it is tender. This should take about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. [2] Now in a 3 quart saucepan, sauté the diced onion in the olive oil until tender. Add the rice to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes until rice is coated in oil. Add the wine and cook until it is absorbed. Add the hot broth one cup at a time until broth is absorbed. This usually takes 20-25 minutes. [3] Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, fresh thyme, red peppers and add salt and pepper. [4] When you are ready to eat you can garnish with some diced scallions and grate the lemon zest over the top. Now you are ready to enjoy your pumpkin and acorn squash risotto.

Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana: Mini pumpkin cheesecakes

Ingredients (crust)
24 gingersnap cookies
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Ingredients (cheesecake filling)
1 8-ounce package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
Whipped cream, for garnish
Salted caramel sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind gingersnap cookies to crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse just until mixed and the mixture is crumbly. [2] Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of gingersnap crust mixture into each of the 12 cheesecake cavities in pan. Press down with spoon or hands. [3] Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla and spices with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and beat until just blended. [4] Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of gingersnap crusts. [5] Bake for 20-25 minutes until set. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. Remove from pan and chill for at least two hours or overnight before serving. The cheesecakes will peel away from the liners very easily. Top with whipped cream and salted caramel sauce, if desired.

Holy Tequila: Pumpkin spice margarita

1 1/2 ounces Lunazul Anejo Tequila
1 ounce house made brown sugar pumpkin simple syrup
Squeeze fresh orange (about 1/4 ounce of juice)
1/4 ounce of Gran Gala

Shake all ingredients and pour over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange wheel dusted in pumpkin spice.

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