Fall farmers’ market fanatics had an early Halloween scare this year amid reports that a wet summer might result in a shortage of pumpkins.
No pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns? For pies, soups and salads? The horror! Luckily, it didn’t happen. Even though some areas are seeing slightly higher prices, pumpkins are still fairly plentiful and cheap, as are other squash. This time of year, in fact, many varieties are at their cheapest, running less than $1 per pound.
They’re versatile, too. If you’re buying pumpkin solely for pie or carving, you’re missing out. Consider these other recipes to make the most of this frighteningly cheap Halloween favorite:
Winter squash dip
Members of the CSA at Winter Sun Farms in Asheville, N.C. clamor for this recipe, says spokeswoman Kathi Petersen. “It’s heavenly,” she says. To make it, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops off two heads of garlic and place on a large piece of foil. Drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil, and wrap loosely. Bake about 50 minutes, and then let cool slightly. Meanwhile, melt four tablespoons unsalted butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add eight sliced scallions (white and pale-green parts) and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 minutes. Place a pound of squash puree in a food processor. Squeeze garlic from skins and add to squash. Add scallions and two chopped chipotle chilis, and pulse until smooth. Add a cup each of sour cream and cream cheese, a quarter-cup Parmesan and a tablespoon lemon juice, and pulse until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
Kabocha squash and goat cheese mash
Executive Chef, Erin Eastland of Cube Café & Marketplace in Los Angeles makes this savory mash, with a little goat cheese and honey for tang.
Forget chocolate. This kind from Cynthia Briggs of the Country Chef Reader blog have a texture that’s just as fudgy, thanks to a mix of pumpkin, banana and apple.
“While in Florence as a student I ate it practically every day,” says Christy Greene of Jacksonville, Fla. “It’s inexpensive and traditionally is reheated on the stove each day and any available veggies or scraps are added as they come available.” To make her version, wash and stem two medium zucchini or squash. Halve each lengthwise, and then halve each piece again, and then cut vertically to make eight equal sections. Saute the squash with a medium chopped onion, and two cloves of crushed garlic in two tablespoons olive oil until the squash is lightly browned and the onions are translucent. Add one to four tablespoons of Italian seasoning (to taste), a can or two of tomatoes with juice, a drained can of cannelloni beans and four cups of chicken stock. Simmer until flavors are well developed. Serve in a bowl over a thick slice of Italian bread (“Day old or stale is best,” she says) and top with Parmesan.
Partida has a seasonal twist on the margarita, using pumpkin. To make, mix two ounces Partida Reposado Tequila, an ounce of fresh lime or lemon juice, and a splash of pumpkin puree. Garnish the rim with sesame seeds.
Consider this your new Thanksgiving centerpiece: a sausage and wild rice stuffing cooked on the grill inside a pumpkin. Taste of BBQ.com blogger, Ian Bowen says he’s perfected the recipe over several years.
Risotto with pumpkin, ginger and sage
“I’m always looking for ways to cook pumpkin in the fall when Halloween is all around — it always feels festive and comforting,” says Peter Berley, chef at The Culinary Loft in NYC. His solution: this recipe, which also appears in Fanae Aaron’s “What Chefs Feed Their Kids.” In large sauté pan, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and, when warm, add a cup of finely chopped leek, three cups peeled and cubed pumpkin or squash, and a tablespoon minced fresh ginger. Sauté for five minutes. Meanwhile, heat five cups water or vegetable stock in a pot and season with salt and pepper if needed; keep warm over a low flame. In the sauté pan, stir in a tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage and a cup and a half Arborio rice. Once the rice starts to become translucent, add a half-cup dry white wine and stir. Cook until the wine is all absorbed; then add the stock ladle by ladle, being sure the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle, and stirring frequently. Continue until the rice is al dente, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add two tablespoons unsalted butter and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in a half cup Parmesan. Turn off the heat and let the risotto rest, uncovered, for 3 minutes before serving. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Sweet roasted squash
Roasted squash is more common as a side dish, but topped with vanilla and brown sugar, this recipe from Spice Islands is more of a dessert.
Pumpkin coconut muffins
Morph pumpkin into breakfast. Sarah Caron of Sarah’s Cucina Bella pairs it with coconut in this muffin recipe .
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie http://www.twitter.com/mintfoodie.