I was thrilled to receive sugar pumpkins in my farm share this year. But as the end of pumpkin season approached, and I still hadn’t touched my pumpkins, I realized I didn’t actually know what to do with them. I had never actually cooked with REAL whole pumpkins!
After doing some research, I decided the best way to get the most from my pumpkins was to roast and puree them, which then allowed me to add fresh pumpkin to whatever I wanted. How exciting!
Roasting and pureeing a pumpkin is very easy; it’s just like roasting any other squash. You want to empty the seeds (save them for toasting!) and stringy insides, cut in half, quarters, eighths (whatever you prefer), and cook for 45 min – 1 hour at anywhere between 350 and 400 degrees. I like my pumpkin golden brown (you can choose how “roasted” you’d like it), but as long as the pumpkin is like soft butter when you pierce it with a fork, you’re good to go.
On that note — here are five of my favorite, real pumpkin dishes you’ll love!
1. Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
The ultimate comfort food. This was the first meal I made with my freshly pureed pumpkin. I used this recipe from Naturally Ella. I love breadcrumbs on top of my mac and cheese, it adds a beautiful golden brown color and a nice crunchy texture. I didn’t have fresh thyme so I used dried. This recipe is super easy and really satisfying.
2. Pumpkin Risotto
Risotto has become my “grown-up comfort food”, as I like to call it. Although mac ‘n cheese will always be one of my favorites, there’s something about stirring a pot over a hot stove for 30 minutes that makes the dish even more satisfying. Whether you have or haven’t made risotto before, there are plenty of basic risotto recipes to be found. (Check out this GMF recipe for mushroom risotto and just leave out the mushrooms!)
Follow the recipe and when the risotto is almost done cooking, add ½ cup to 1 cup (I like it heaping) of pumpkin puree. Add other flavors you like, I added sage and parmigiano reggiano. It’s a cozy fall dish that makes for great leftovers too.
3. Pumpkin Oats
I LOVE oatmeal in the cold weather. I should call my oatmeal “everything but the kitchen sink oats” because I add everything. So why not pumpkin? For my pumpkin oats, I added pumpkin seeds, about ½ cup pumpkin puree, trail mix (any kind is awesome in oatmeal!), maple syrup, cooked apple, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. But the great thing about oatmeal is, you can add whatever you’d like…everything but the kitchen sink!
Just like oatmeal, a quick and easy breakfast that keeps me full until lunch is Greek yogurt. I added a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin to my yogurt. You can add whatever else you have in your cabinets and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea! You’ll see here I added pumpkin seeds I roasted with a little bit of cayenne and brown sugar. Drizzle some maple syrup on top for that cozy autumn flavor! I find this is a great after lunch treat too.
5. Pumpkin Smoothie
My friend told me this smoothie changed her life, and it’s true. It’s that good. I used this recipe, plus I added chia seeds (my friend’s suggestion). I froze some of the pumpkin puree and added this instead of canned pumpkin.
6. Pumpkin Pizza
Homemade pizza is always a win. Making your own dough is really easy but you can buy dough at the store too. I like pesto on my pumpkin pizza, instead of a tomato sauce. When pureeing the pumpkin, leave a few big chunks instead of completely pureeing smooth, it makes for a better topping. I also added red onion, roasted garlic, goat cheese, parmigiano reggiano, and fresh arugula and balsamic vinegar once it was out of the oven. Not in the mood for pizza? Add it to a pasta dish!