The moment that first leaf changes from green to yellow to red, we’re calling it: It is officially pumpkin season! In other words, it’s time to eat (or drink!) all of the giant orange fruit you can get your hands on. But instead of indulging in pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages from coffee shops and restaurants, you can pack in maximum flavor and satisfy your creativity by making pumpkin-flavored recipes yourself.
Puréed pumpkin is the base of many delicious autumnal dishes, from traditional pumpkin pie to comforting fall soups. Canned pumpkin is perfectly acceptable, but to really get in the season’s spirit, try making your own pumpkin purée. The process is easy, and the result? Delicious!
First, buy an edible pumpkin (or squash/gourd), slice it in half, and remove all the seeds and guts. Place the cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in a 400°F oven until soft (a knife will go in easily).
Let it cool before scooping the flesh out of the skin. You now have your own pumpkin to use in dozens of pumpkin recipes. If you don’t use the puree within a few days, don’t worry — cooked pumpkin freezes well for year-round use.
In fact, you can keep your puréed pumpkin on hand for quick and delicious pumpkin-avocado breakfast smoothies. Make the energy-boosting drink by blending 1/2 cup of your pumpkin purée with 1/4 of an avocado, 1 ripe banana, 2 cups of fresh spinach, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg, and 8 ounces of your favorite nut milk (almond, cashew, or hazelnut all work beautifully with the pumpkin and avocado).
Who said pumpkin’s only for autumn, anyway?
Pumpkin butter is basically a spreadable pumpkin pie (minus the crust) in a jar. Fill a roasting dish with 2 cups of pumpkin purée, 2/3 cup of brown sugar, your favorite pumpkin pie spices (think cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger), and a few tablespoons of butter for richness. Roast at 350°F for an hour, stirring it well every 15 minutes. It’s done when the mixture has thickened and browned slightly.
Then, it’s ready for countless different applications. Try it over ice cream, on top of a bagel with cream cheese, as a cake filling, or eat it by the spoonful (it’s OK; we won’t tell). Go crazy and make a pumpkin pie milkshake with vanilla ice cream, milk, pumpkin butter, and chunks of pie crust. You can also use its sweetness as a foil for a savory or more neutral dish, spreading it, for instance, on a tortilla and topping it with avocados and other taco fixings.
The butter can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for a year.
Getting thirsty? That means it’s time for a pumpkin cocktail! Use some of the pumpkin butter you just made for a twist on a Moscow mule (vodka, ginger beer, and lime) by using bourbon, ginger beer, lime, and a few tablespoons of pumpkin butter. For a tarter cocktail, add a splash of cranberry juice. For a nonalcoholic variation, just leave out the bourbon. This autumn-in-a-glass cocktail is sure to warm you up from the inside out. Every hour is happy hour when you add avocados. Check out these cocktail-inspired guacamole recipes for your next get-together.
Pumpkin stands up perfectly to the strong flavors of an Indian curry, which lends a little sweetness to the dish. Make your own spice blend by combining garam masala, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and some hot pepper for heat. Use the spice blend to sauté some onions and finely chopped garlic, then add pumpkin purée, cooked chickpeas, and your favorite chopped vegetables (cauliflower and potato pair well), along with some chicken or vegetable stock and coconut milk. Cook until the vegetables have softened and the curry has thickened slightly. Serve the pumpkin curry with a few thin slices of avocado on top.
Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds! Practically every part of the pumpkin is edible, and their seeds are some of the tastiest parts. Rinse the sticky pumpkin guts off the seeds, let the seeds (or “pepitas”) dry out on a baking sheet or kitchen towel overnight, and then get ready to roast!
Toss the seeds with a little olive oil and your favorite spices. You can go sweet with cinnamon and ginger or savory with chipotle powder, garlic, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Then, spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook them in the oven for about 40 minutes at 300°F.
Once they’re nice and crispy, let them cool before you snack straight from the tray. If you’re OK with delayed gratification, add the pepitas to your favorite dishes for a little extra crunch. Pumpkin and avocado are a match made in heaven, and these roasted seeds step up any recipe. Pepitas go great with seasonal pumpkin spice guacamole, added into pumpkin cranberry avocado muffins, or on top of savory avocado toast.
AVO TIP: Need an idea for a tasty and gorgeous fall salad? Check out this fabulous recipe!
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