Pumpkins are popping up everywhere these days, from farmer’s markets to grocery store bins. Small one, large ones, white ones, orange ones; all stunning globes of delicious pumpkin-y goodness. Sure, they’ll be carved into ghoulish faces within a couple of weeks, but there’s a lot more that you can do with a pumpkin than turn it into a Jack o’Lantern or a pie. Here are 9 things you can do with punkins’ gloriously goopy innards and succulent flesh this season.
This fabulous spread is from Oh She Glows: a website dedicated to incredible vegan recipes and healthy eating tips. You can use this butter on pancakes or toast, add it to muffins or baked energy bars, swirl it into your cereal, or just curl up with a jar of it and a spoon; it’s that good.
- 4 – 4.5 cups fresh pumpkin puree (made from ~3.8 pound sugar pumpkin)
- 1/4 cup sweet apple cider or apple juice, more if needed
- 1 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar, unpacked)
- 3-4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (enhances flavor and helps preserve it)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch of fine grain sea salt
Roast your sugar pumpkins (see this tutorial). Cool for 10 minutes on pan before handling. Add pumpkin flesh (without the skin) in a blender. Add juice and blend until smooth, stopping to push down the pumpkin when necessary. It may take a bit to get it going.
Add the Sucanat (or brown sugar), maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Process again until super smooth and no clumps remain. Spoon mixture into a medium-sized pot. Cover with lid and prop lid ajar with a wooden spoon. Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until it’s as thick as you want it. Keep the lid ajar throughout the cooking process—you will find it splatters everywhere, so be careful! Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Cool completely, stir in lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and then store in a sealed jar in the fridge. Should keep for 2-4 weeks.
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Wedges
I’ve made this recipe with slices of Kabocha squash as well, and it’s an absolutely fabulous vegan dish. Try it paired with a simple salad of quinoa or wild rice with toasted nuts, dry cranberries, and fresh herbs.
- 1 small to medium-sized pumpkin
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400F, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and then cut it into 1/2 inch slices. Place these in a large mixing bowl, drizzle them with a bit of olive oil, and then add the sugar and all the spices. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the slices start to brown, then flip over and bake an additional 10-12 minutes (or a bit longer, depending on your oven), until the flesh is fork-tender and golden brown.
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Most nut brittles end up breaking into shards that’ll slice your mouth open, but this recipe from Smitten Kitchenturns pepitas (pumpkin seeds) into morsels of absolute delight. This brittle is a perfect balance of sweet and salty, with a crunch that’s downright addictive. The best part of this is that you don’t need to use a candy thermometer, you can simply eyeball it.
- Vegetable-oil spray or 1 teaspoon butter, for lining the tray
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 ounces (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse or flaky sea salt (use less if you’re using salted butter)
- 1 1/2 cups of raw, unroasted pepitas (they toast in the syrup)
Line a 12 x 16 x 1/2-inch sheet baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat it with vegetable spray or butter.
Put the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over high medium-high, but watch it carefully as it will foam up quite a bit and you might need to dial back the heat to medium until it begins to thicken. Once the mixture turns a medium golden (takes at least 10 minutes) immediately remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda followed by the salt (taking care, as the caramel will rise in the pan and bubble some more). Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the seeds.
Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden. Alternately, you can slide the parchment paper out of the baking pan and onto a counter, cover it with another sheet, and use a rolling pin, pressing down hard, to roll it out as flat and thin as you would like.
At this point you can either let it cool completely (pulling off the top sheet of parchment, if you use the rolling pin technique) and break it into bite-size pieces with the back of a knife or other blunt object or, while it is still fairly hot and pliable, cut it into a shape of your choice (I went for long, thinnish strips) and let the pieces cool, separated on parchment paper.
The brittle can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to two weeks. I like to separate the pieces between layers of parchment or waxed paper, as a little humidity can cause them to stick together.
Ravioli Stuffed with Pumpkin
If you’ve never tried pumpkin or squash ravioli, you’ve missed out on something spectacular. There’s something truly gorgeous about the unique flavor of pumpkin when paired with goat cheese (or a vegan cashew equivalent). With regard to the dough, the easiest way to go about making these is to buy fresh pasta sheets from the grocery store and cut those into even shapes, or even just use wonton wrappers. If you happen to have the time and inclination to make your own dough, then go for it! Gluten-free fresh pastacan also work well, but remember that for either GF or regular dough, you’ll either need a pasta machine to roll it out evenly, or a fair bit of patience with a rolling pin.
- 1 small, sweet pumpkin
- Pasta dough, cut into squares or circles (or wonton wrappers)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese (like chevre) or equivalent amount of cashew cheese
- 1 tsp green onion or chives, minced
- A pinch of thyme
Preheat oven to 375F. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds, reserving them for another purpose (like drying for snacks, or that amazing brittle). Rub 1 tbsp of olive oil or butter into each half, followed by 1/2 a tbsp of brown sugar. Place these cut side down onto a greased baking sheet, and bake for about an hour, until the flesh is easily pierced by a sharp knife. Let them cool until they can be handled without burning yourself.
Scoop out the pumpkin flesh: you’ll need 1.5 – 2 cups of it, depending on how many ravioli you’d like to make. If you find that it’s quite liquidy, wring it out in a dishcloth first to get rid of the excess. Place the pulp into a food processor or blender along with the soft cheese, green onions, thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper. Pulse gently until all items are combined, and then season with additional salt/pepper to taste.
*Note: you can also use this filling to stuff cannelloni tubes or large pasta shells for another variation on the dish.
Place a heaping teaspoon in the center of a pasta square, wet the edges with a bit of water, and then lay another square atop it, sealing the edges well. As each square is formed, place it on a baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal—once the sheet has been filled, place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes for the pasta to firm up. Then, bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and drop in the ravioli: you’ll cook them for just a few minutes, until they float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and place in a serving bowl. Top with your favorite sauce (like a creamy white wine sauce, or even just brown butter and sage), and serve while hot.