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Pumpkin-Everything: Sweet and Savory Recipe Ideas for Fall’s Favorite Squash

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Pumpkin-Everything: Sweet and Savory Recipe Ideas for Fall’s Favorite Squash

Subtly sweet pumpkin is a hearty, comforting ingredient for all kinds of recipes (beyond pies and lattes).  Cooking and baking deepen the pumpkin’s rich, earthy, nutty flavors to enhance all kinds of desserts, dinners, drinks, and more. 

Patches of vibrant orange pumpkins are a true sign of fall. While pumpkin makes great jack-o-lanterns and table decorations, the squash is also great for cooking!

Subtly sweet pumpkin is a hearty, comforting ingredient for all kinds of recipes (beyond pies and lattes).  Cooking and baking deepen the pumpkin’s rich, earthy, nutty flavors to enhance all kinds of desserts, dinners, drinks, and more. 

From the Patch to Your Plate

We’re big believers that the best recipes start with the freshest ingredients. So let’s dig into how pumpkins are grown and harvested here in Vermont!

Pumpkin seeds are typically sown in late spring to early summer, once the risk of frost has passed. Over time, the plants grow into long, sprawling vines along the ground. Rough leaves on the vine protect growing pumpkins from the hot summer sun. 

Honeybees and pollinators play a crucial role in spreading pollen between pumpkin flowers to help the fruit grow. As fall approaches, tiny green orbs gradually enlarge and mature in color. While you may be most familiar with bright orange pumpkins, the squash can also ripen to white, green, or a blend of colors. The pumpkin is ready to pick once its skin firms up and stems harden.

From September through November, Vermont pumpkin patches buzz with festive visitors searching for the perfect fall squash. But your choice of pumpkin can vary depending on what you’re using it for! While field pumpkins are great for carving jack-o-lanterns, their watery, stringy flesh is not ideal for eating. When it comes to cooking and baking, the sweet and tender Sugar Pie pumpkin is our favorite choice.   

How to Cook or Bake with Pumpkin

The tender-soft orange flesh of a Sugar Pie pumpkin is typically the star of fall recipes. Pumpkin flesh is soft enough to eat and bursting with a warm, earthy, slightly nutty taste. 

Most recipes will call for either diced pumpkin chunks or a smooth pumpkin purée. Here’s how you can prepare both: 

  • To dice a fresh pumpkin, start by carefully cutting off the top and bottom with a large chef’s knife. Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut each half into planks, then slice these planks into strips. At this point, you can use your knife to slice off the tough skin. Finish by dicing each strip into whatever size chunks you need. 
  • To make fresh pumpkin purée, cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Drizzle each half with olive oil and season with salt, then roast on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until the flesh is soft and tender. This will take about an hour. Scrape out the sweet pumpkin flesh, blend it up in your food processor until smooth, and you’re good to go! We love making pumpkin purée in the fall, but you can also always buy canned pumpkin purée for ease. 

While the tender pumpkin flesh is what you’re after here, you can easily reduce pumpkin waste by utilizing other parts of the squash! Roasted pumpkin seeds make for a great snack and the pumpkin skin and inner “guts” can be easily used to make a homemade stock with other veggie scraps. 

Savory Pumpkin Dishes

Now that your fresh pumpkin is ready to go, it’s time to get cooking! 

In our opinion, savory pumpkin dishes are seriously underrated. Pumpkin’s warm, earthy flavor and subtle nuttiness make it fantastic for all kinds of cozy, feel-good fall comfort foods. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Pumpkin Soup: To make a pot of pumpkin soup, sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a large pot. Then add cubed pumpkin, your favorite fresh fall herbs, and vegetable or chicken broth. Simmer until the pumpkin is tender, using an immersion blender to smooth it out. We love finishing with a touch of heavy cream for extra richness! 
  • Savory Pumpkin Pasta: We love sweet pumpkin purée stuffed in ravioli or to make a pumpkin cream sauce for tortellini. You can also simply sauté diced pumpkin with garlic and sage and toss it with your favorite short pasta like rigatoni or penne.
  • Pumpkin Risotto: Pumpkin purée makes creamy risotto even cozier. Simply stir it into the pot of risotto once the arborio rice reaches al dente. 
  • Pumpkin Salad: Roasted cubed pumpkin is a great add-in to your favorite green salad or quinoa salad. Toss it with a Cider Vinaigrette or homemade dressing with Maple Mustard
  • Pumpkin Curry: For a hearty pumpkin curry, sauté onions, garlic, and ginger with cubed pumpkin and chickpeas. Season with curry spices and pour in creamy coconut milk, simmering until the pumpkin is tender. Serve with rice or naan.
  • Pumpkin Pizza: Replace traditional tomato sauce with a layer of pumpkin purée on your pizza crust. Then add your favorite cheese and toppings! We love a pumpkin pizza with caramelized onions, spinach, and sage.
  • Pumpkin BBQ Sauce: Our famous pumpkin butter makes a great base for sweet barbecue sauce! Simply combine it with ketchup, vinegar, and your favorite seasonings, then use it to baste grilled chicken, pork, or tofu.

Sweet Pumpkin Treats

Pumpkin’s natural sweetness makes it incredibly popular for fall baking! Pumpkin pie is, of course, the obvious choice – but pumpkin purée can be used to make all kinds of sweet treats.

Our bakery team at the Mill loves making pumpkin-themed baked goods for both breakfast and dessert. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Pumpkin Muffins: Give pumpkin muffins a special touch by adding a spiced crumb topping. Our fall crisp topping makes things easy – just add cold butter and chopped nuts!
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake: Fresh pumpkin purée gives luscious pumpkin cheesecake an extra-creamy touch. Simply fold the purée into the cream cheese filling and pour over a graham cracker crust before chilling. Don’t forget a dollop of whipped cream for serving! 
  • Pumpkin Dessert Rolls: While you can certainly bake your own dessert, our maple pumpkin roll-up with cream cheese filling makes any holiday gathering easy.
  • Pumpkin Bread: Like sweet banana bread, pumpkin bread makes for a great breakfast or dessert. Enjoy it with a slather of maple butter, just like a Vermonter!
  • Pumpkin Pancakes: Add a dollop of pumpkin butter to your pancake batter for a seasonal breakfast twist. Top with fresh Vermont maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.
  • Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast: The ultimate fall indulgent breakfast! Spread a mixture of pumpkin butter and cream cheese between two slices of challah bread, then dip in egg and cinnamon and cook. 

Pumpkin Drinks

There’s nothing more comforting than sipping a pumpkin drink on a crisp autumn day. Pumpkin spice lattes might be all the rage, but here are a few other fun ways to sip pumpkin:

  • Pumpkin Smoothie: Blend pumpkin purée with yogurt, a ripe banana, locally harvested honey, and a pinch of pumpkin spice for a creamy morning smoothie.
  • Pumpkin Chai Latte: Steep your favorite chai tea and combine it with milk, pumpkin purée, and a dash of maple syrup.
  • Pumpkin Cold Brew: Mix a spoonful of pumpkin purée into your favorite cold brew coffee. A dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of maple sugar make it an extra-delicious afternoon pick-me-up.
  • Hot Pumpkin Apple Cider: Give fresh apple cider a boost with a scoop of pumpkin purée and a pinch of pumpkin spice. Warm it up on the stovetop and sip around a campfire!

What’s Your Favorite Way to Eat Pumpkin?

We’re a fan of all sweet and savory pumpkin things here at the Mill. Give one of our pumpkin recipe ideas a try and tag us on Instagram – we love to see what taste of Vermont you’re enjoying at home!

Still Hungry? Check out some of our other articles!

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