I’m not going to beat around the
bush patch: I adore pumpkin. Always have. It might be related in some way to the fluffy orange costumes, complete with green “stem” caps, that my parents stuffed me into every Halloween from ages zero through, I don’t know, four?
All I know for sure is that as a child, that scene in Cinderella where the carriage turns back into a pumpkin at midnight—you know, the one that’s supposed to make you wistful for what her life with the prince could be—always just made me hungry. “Perfect for a midnight snack!” I thought. “The prince’ll be there tomorrow.”
And no disrespect to pumpkin pie (which, in my book, is a nearly perfect fall dessert), but there are more ways to skin a pumpkin. Many more. Some of them involve melted cheese. And pancetta. Others, salted egg yolk. And still others, hunks of toasty baguette.
Here are six that I’ve been waiting all year to break out for dinner:
I mean, c’mon. This dreamboat of a baked pasta incorporates pumpkin two ways—creamed into the sauce, and in little roasted cubes throughout. If that’s not enough for you, maybe the five types of cheese will do the trick. Still no? There’s also pancetta. I rest my case.
Crispy? Check. Lightly sweet, balanced by a rich saltiness? Check. A little spicy, to keep things interesting? Check. Please. This dish, which calls in cured egg yolks for extra depth and flavor, is a reminder that pumpkin belongs firmly on the dinner table.
If you can carve a pumpkin, you can make this fondue-stuffed dinner. Pros: It’s filled with melty cheese and crispy baguette hunks. Cons: Unlike a regular jack-o’-lantern, it won’t attract attention from your neighbor’s cat. Although depending on the cat, maybe that one’s a pro.
These pumpkin gnocchi are excellent with the prescribed walnut pesto, but they’re also a perfect template for saucy riffs. Brown butter with sage would be nice. An Alfredo—or a creamy, cheesy correlate—would take things over the top, in the best possible way.
The pumpkin in this kaddo is pan-fried, then baked, meaning a super crispy exterior plus a perfectly tender interior. It’s served with a big spoonful of tangy, garlicky yogurt and a jammy tomato sauce.
Learn to make these pumpkin (or sweet potato) waffles, and have a blank canvas for life! We like them for a simple dinner topped with a fried egg and hot sauce, but you could go in any direction really. Think: sausage crumbles, melted Gruyère, braised greens.
What are your favorite ways to use pumpkin? Let us know in the comments!