Pumpkins Make Any Dish a Smashing Hit

These six recipes will give you new ways to celebrate fall's sweetest treat.

  • Pumpkin
    Try picking out a fresh pumpkin at a pumpkin patch before making your delicious treats!

  • Pumpkin

The leaves are changing, and it’s finally cool enough to wear a sweatshirt again — fall is here! And what better way to celebrate fall than to pick out a pumpkin at a local pumpkin patch? This season, though, before you gravitate to the biggest, easiest-to-carve pumpkin, think about picking up a sugar (or pie) pumpkin to make delicious fall treats.

Sugar pumpkins give any pumpkin recipe a better flavor and are smaller than your average Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin: They are about 4 pounds in size. Not only do they taste good, but they’re an excellent source of nutrients. All pumpkins contain a lot of beta-carotene, a phytonutrient that can reduce the risk of heart disease and the development of certain types of cancer. So, don’t just carve a pumpkin this year, try these recipes for unique dishes that capture fall’s flavor.

Note: Many of the recipes below call for pumpkin purée. Here’s how to make it via epicurious.com: Cut a sugar pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. Place it cut-side down in a baking dish and pour in about a quarter inch of hot water. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the flesh is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Turn the pumpkin halves cut-side up to cool. Scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin and purée it in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the purée to a large sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth and let it drain for two to three hours until it is firm enough to hold its shape on a spoon.


Rigatoni with Pumpkin and Bacon

 (from Martha Stewart)


  • Coarse sea salt
  • 8 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 sugar pumpkin (about 3 pounds), peeled and halved, seeds removed, and flesh cut into 
  •  3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1-1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tbsp hulled raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted, for garnish


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Put bacon into a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until bacon is almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; let drain.
  2. Add onion to skillet with bacon grease. Cook, stirring, until soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add pumpkin, sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the allspice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add stock and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until pumpkin is soft and sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Season with pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, and add to skillet. Add the bacon and Parmesan, and toss to combine. Divide among bowls. Serve with Parmesan on the side, and garnish with pepitas.

Yield: Makes 4 servings.

10/25/2008 10:28:38 AM

I just got home from taking my grandkids to a local pumpkin farm for the afternoon. You know, one of those that caters to childrens activities and a small petting zoo. We had a great Autumn day and came home with much of Mother Earth's bounty. I cannot wait to try some of the recipes you have posted. Thanks for the great article! Of course, the biggest pumpkin will be reserved for a fabulous jack-o-lantern for the porch, but we have enough smaller ones and winter squash to sample lots of goodies. Everyone have a Blesses Samhain! JJ

Greg T.
10/24/2008 8:15:17 AM

An easy way to make pumpkin (or any winter squash) puree is with your pressure cooker. (If you don't own one, seriously consider investing) Remove stem and blossom ends, quarter and seed a pie pumpkin or winter squash. Place steaming insert and 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of your pressure cooker. Place the squash in the pressure cooker, cut side down to allow the condensing liquid to run off. Attach lid, bring burner to High, and heat until steam escapes the vent. Add weight or close stopcock, process at pressure for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely. With many pumpkins, you can actually lift the entire skin from the pumpkin and scoop (spatulas work well) the soft flesh into another container. Potato ricers make excellent textured flesh for side dishes, or an immersion blender or balloon whisk tool for a stand mixer to create that finer grain. Food mills can be used for the perfect custard texture pumpkin pie, though my family has discovered we like a pie with a tiny bit of texture variation. Happy steaming!

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