Pumpkin-flavored lattes, cookies and just about anything else that could potentially be flavored with spicy pumpkin-y flavors are shoved in our faces from the day after Labor Day until (very similar to Cinderella) they disappear at midnight on Thanksgiving. But they don’t! Actual pumpkins are not always meant to taste like they’re going in a pie with cinnamon and nutmeg. When’s the last time you grabbed one of these hunky guys from the grocery store and just went to town? I’m talking about getting down and dirty with some winter squash, roasting it and adding it to some risotto, or making your own pumpkin puree because it’s seriously that easy. You know you want to.
Carved pumpkins are cute on your doorstep, but they turn out starchy and not super flavorful when you cook them. For cooking, you’re going to want pumpkins labeled pie, sugar or cheese, and the smaller ones tend to be sweetest.
The easiest way to prep your pumpkin, after carefully cutting around the stem to remove, is to scoop out the fibers and seeds, and either cut the pumpkin in half and roast, or peel and cut it into large dice and boil in water or chicken stock. Don’t forget to save the seeds! Rinse them off, removing any fibers, blot dry, then toss with some olive oil and spices before roasting (try these Spicy Pumpkin Seeds or Spiced Pepitas) for an addictive, crunchy snack.
So if you’ve already had it with the holidays (and it’s not even technically the holiday season yet) take a look below to remember why we love autumn. Because: pumpkins.
- Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Bread (pictured above) can easily be made into pumpkin muffins by switching baking vessels.
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Duck Confit Relish will warm you up even on the coldest of days. Prep the duck confit the day before you want to make the soup and keep the leftover confit for up to a month in the fridge (duck confit hash with eggs could make for a spectacular brunch). Use the leftover duck fat to roast root veggies or saute green beans.
- Pumpkin Baked Alaska with Spiked Eggnog Center will be the piece de resistance on your Thanksgiving table — family members will be talking about this for years to come.
- Sancocho with Aji is a traditional Latin American stew filled with tons of stick-to-your-ribs food like chicken, beef ribs, corn, pumpkin, rice, plantains and yucca.
- North Fork Harvest Salad is only a salad in the sense that it contains some greens: caramelized pears, roasted duck breast, hazelnut-crusted goat cheese topped with a pumpkin vinaigrette, oh yea, and the greens that helped this dish earn its “salad” status.
- Pumpkin risotto three ways: Aida Mollenkamp’s Creamy Baked Pumpkin Risotto, Emeril’s Winter Squash and Duck Risotto or Pumpkin Risotto with Amarone Sauce. FYI, Amarone is a dry, full-bodied Italian red wine.
- Pumpkin Roll Cake is the ultimate in traditional holiday fare.
- Store-bought buttermilk biscuit dough makes Pumpkin Doughnuts a snap to whip up.
- The secret to creating the classic shape of churros is a pastry bag fitted with a large star-point tip. Carefully squeeze out the dough into hot oil and it will retain the shape! Try out the method with Bobby Flay’s Mini Pumpkin Churros with Chocolate Coffee Dipping Sauce.
- Pumpkin Cornbread and Pumpkin Biscuits are what the fall holidays have been missing.
- Rachael Ray utilizes store-bought chutney (a type of Indian condiment) for her Curried Squash Soup with Apple and Cheddar Melts. If you can’t find any in your local store, try making your own chutney.
- Sticky buns just got a makeover: Pumpkin Sticky Buns with Pecan Bourbon Caramel Goodness.
- If you have a few leftover pieces of Pumpkin Pie, try making Flan de Calabaza (Pumpkin). If you want the flan without the fat, Ellie Krieger’s Pumpkin Flan is the way to go.
- A store-bought box of devil’s food cake mix is transformed with a can of pumpkin puree: Yum Yum Brownie Muffins.
- Break out of the pumpkin pie mold with Pumpkin Gyoza; they’re a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy and a whole lot of delicious.
- Pumpkin Cake in the shape of a pumpkin. Whoa. So meta.
- If Pumpkin Ice Cream with Ginger Molasses Cookie Dough is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. And don’t fret if you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat raw dough before you make cookies — this is an eggless “dough” intended for eating without cooking.
- Classic Pumpkin Soup is a simple warm lunch that can make brutally cold, windy days bearable.
- Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry is just exotic enough to keep your taste buds on their toes, but simple enough to be on the table in 30 minutes. Don’t get scared off by fish sauce — I know it smells super strong, but it adds a really mild (and fantastic) savory flavor to your food.
- Pumpkin Butter is the early-winter version of apple butter. Spread it on everything, like Pumpkin Streusel Muffins and Pumpkin and Rosemary Muffins.
- If you’ve never made Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (with maple marshmallow frosting), you’re missing out.
- Cocoa powder, ancho chile powder and cumin are the keys to the Fabulous Beekman Boys’ smoky Texas-style Harvest Beef Chili.
- A pinch of saffron adds a whole lot of flavor to Rachael’s Pumpkin, Penne and Cabbage dinner.
- Make this quick Pumpkin Mousse the night before you want to serve it so it will have enough time to cool down — finishing the dish early will take some of the stress out of entertaining too.
- Just when you think you can’t handle any more holiday parties, life gives you a Spiced Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshake. Sip. Relax. Repeat.
More 25 ways: