Fall is nearly synonymous with pumpkin, and for good reason. Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae, or the gourd family, pumpkins are a type of winter squash that thrives in the cooler temperatures and shorter days of autumn. Beloved in both sweet and savory dishes, pumpkin is good for more than the annual Thanksgiving pie. Canned pumpkin puree has a generous shelf life, making it an ideal pantry staple for the fall and winter months, but fresh pumpkins are worth trying, too.
Sugar pumpkins—the round, bright orange kind that probably comes to mind when you think of a pumpkin—are very popular, and for good reason. They have tender flesh and a rich, sweet flavor that’s ideal in both savory and sweet preparations. It’s worth trying other varieties of winter squash in recipes that call for pumpkin, like kabocha squash, cinderella, or cheese pumpkins.
What are the health benefits of eating pumpkin?
Pumpkin isn’t just the quintessential fall ingredient, it’s packed with nutrients like beta-carotene (an antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A by the body), vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Their edible seeds are a fantastic source of zinc and protein, so combining them in dishes like pumpkin soup or a grain bowl is not just delicious health-promoting. Look for raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) at the store, which have the hard, white shell removed.
What flavors pair well with pumpkin?
If you’ve ever had a pumpkin pie, then you’re likely aware that warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice pair well with this winter squash. Ingredients like maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla enhance pumpkin’s natural sweetness. But, you may be surprised to hear that savory herbs like thyme, sage, and rosemary add depth to pumpkin dishes like risotto or soups, while fresh and dried chilis are a match made in heaven for pumpkin curries and stews.
4 savory pumpkin recipe ideas
Cooking with pumpkin isn’t just about pies and pumpkin spice syrup. In fact, pumpkin’s rich flavor and creamy texture make it ideal for a variety of savory dishes.
- Pumpkin Risotto: Pumpkin adds velvety texture and a hint of sweetness to the classic Italian dish. We like The New York Times’ straightforward recipe, which features a classic risotto, upgraded with 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Take it up a notch by topping each bowl with fried fresh sage leaves and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil.
- Pumpkin Pesto Stuffed Pasta Shells: HexClad’s recipe for jumbo stuffed shells with pumpkin and pesto features a sausage-studded pumpkin sauce and a fontina and ricotta filling. Pumpkin adds a sweetness that contrasts the herby pesto and two cheeses.
- Turkey Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili: Upgrade your pot of fall chili with chunks of pumpkin, which marry perfectly with southwestern flavors in The Modern Proper’s recipe for turkey pumpkin chili.
3 sweet pumpkin recipe ideas that go beyond pumpkin pie
Pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake are standard fare in the fall now. These 3 sweet treats featuring pumpkin go beyond the expected.