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What's Cooking?: Flavors of Fall: The Pumpkin

pumpkin soup

It is the peak of autumn as we embrace the stunning flora of leaves changing from summer green to brilliant orange, red, and golden colors. Mimicking the colors of fall as well is the season of harvesting pumpkins, winter squash and gourds.  Squash comes in all varieties of shapes, sizes, and colors but one of the most popular squash is the beloved pumpkin. These bright orange spheres are iconic spectacles beckoning to be picked from the patch for the holidays.  Pumpkin can be used in so many ways.

Pumpkin pie and jack o’ lanterns immediately come to mind when one typically thinks of pumpkin.  However, pumpkin is used in both sweet and savory dishes. For those who have a sweet tooth, there are recipes for pumpkin bread, cheesecake, cookies, bars, bread puddings, biscuits, pancakes, donuts and ice cream. How about pumpkin and cream cheese muffins or pumpkin chocolate chip scones?  My favorite is still pumpkin pie baked with a praline topping which uplifts the good ol’ pumpkin pie to greater heights.  The chopped pecans, mixed in brown sugar and butter, are laid gently on the pumpkin pie in the last 12 minutes of baking resulting in a delicious buttery toasted topping.  What a perfect pairing!  I have an affinity for savory dishes over sweet treats and there are so ways where pumpkin can be the star.  Some ideas include a luscious creamy curry and coconut pumpkin soup, fried pumpkin fritters and all sorts of pasta dishes like gnocchi, ravioli, a pumpkin & mushroom lasagna or pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells.  How about an Asian influence with pumpkin filled pot stickers, dumplings or a pumpkin and red bean congee (rice porridge)?  Ever had a pumpkin grilled cheese sandwich, baked pumpkin stuffed with sausages, pumpkin chili served in mini pumpkin bowls or scalloped pumpkin & potatoes?  Every part of the pumpkin is used so don’t forget to serve the roasted pumpkin seeds called pepitas. They are especially good on top of salads.

Pumpkins grace the autumn and winter holidays decoratively.  Mini pumpkins can be used as pumpkin candle holders, pumpkin place cards and even to serve as tureens for soups on a holiday table.  Various sizes of pumpkin can be arranged as centerpieces or shaped as vases on tabletops. With some creativity they can accent our doorways as a harvest wreath and ornamental door swag.  I certainly will not take the versatility of the subtle sweet mellow flavor of pumpkin for granted. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Holiday Pumpkins by Georgeanne Brennan & Jennifer Barry

The Complete Book of Soups and Stews by Bernard Clayton Jr.

Betty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond

The Thanksgiving Cookbook by Holly Garrison

Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka

Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates: Festive Holidays and Special Occasions by Moosewood Collective

Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Entertaining by Lou Seibert. Pappas

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