Today brings us a guest post from our fellow friends-with-a-French-name at Bon Appétit.
This time of year, it seems we can’t escape the wrath reach of “pumpkin spice” (generally speaking, a heady mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and/or cloves) wafting through the air. While we’re all for the occasional dash of spice mix and pumpkin—we’re much more into pumpkin that’s cheesy, spicy, savory, and herbaceous. There’s a whole world of pumpkin cooking out there, and it goes way beyond the latte. This is the real pumpkin spice.
Let’s start slowly. You’ve probably encountered pumpkin and nuts with fairly high frequency—it’s a common pairing that works well in sweet baked goods. But pumpkin, seeds, and nuts are just as happy together without a hit of sugar. We like this salty seed-and-nut mix that’s spiked with curry and cayenne. A drizzle of agave keeps things balanced, but the flavor profile is decidedly savory.
Pumpkin seeds don’t have to be sweet—these are flavored with cayenne.
When we say “spice,” we mean all of the flavorings that add depth and complexity. We’re talking chiles, and we’re talking heat. If you’re aiming for dinner in a hurry, try a quick pumpkin stir-fry, made fiery and funky with red chiles and oyster sauce. We’re also particularly fond of this pork and squash stew, which gets its kick from chiles de árbol and guajillo chiles—and simmers into a hearty, healthy one-pot meal. The recipe calls for delicata and kabocha squash, but you could certainly use pumpkin.
One sure-fire way to up the ante on a pumpkin stew? Two types of chiles.
Pumpkin and cheese like each other a lot. Real cheese—the aged stuff! For example, this pumpkin agnolotti is flavored with sharp Parmesan and lemon zest, with nary a cinnamon stick in sight. Or pumpkin soup made with melty, oozy Gruyère that stays the savory course with pimento d’Espelette, bay leaf, and fennel. If you happen to have any Gruyère left over, might we suggest this thyme cheese ball with toasted pepitas?
This pumpkin and Parmesan agnolotti will make you forget all about cream cheese and pumpkin muffins.
We look to curries for pumpkin-and-coconut inspiration. A good curry is well-balanced with toasted spices, a little (or a lot) of heat, and sweet, cooling coconut milk to tie it all together. Our test kitchen is a-okay with both canned pumpkin and coconut milk. This pumpkin shrimp curry uses both, and is ready in about 30 minutes. Or go nutty with a pumpkin and cashew dish. Both are fantastic over rice, and reheated the next day.
Baking with pumpkin is hardly off-limits, but these days we’re more excited about unexpected spices and flavor combinations. This pumpkin flan is flavored with fragrant cardamom, star anise, and orange zest; heavy cream and squash purée add a natural and nuanced sweetness.
Cooked pumpkin is creamy and naturally sweet—it’s almost always made better with the addition of fresh herbs, which lighten and brighten the dish. Case in point? This roasted sugar pumpkin gussied up with tangy-sweet balsamic vinegar and a healthy handful of torn mint leaves. Other pumpkin-friendly options include sage, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.
Thanks, guys! Check out what else the Bon Appétit team is cooking up this season right here.