Autumn’s turning leaves foretell the arrival of the garden’s most bodacious fruit: the pumpkin.
Photography by Mark Fonville
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] favorite in my fall kitchen, pumpkins aren’t limited to just holiday pies and spooky jack-o’-lanterns. Pumpkin is much too versatile, delicious and just plain good for you; it’s a great source of fiber and vitamins A, C and K. Pumpkins are an ornamental favorite here at Moss Mountain Farm and come in all shapes and forms, looking magnificent in the gardens as well as in festive tablescapes.
There’s a smorgasbord of creative ways to get pumpkin on your table, in your bowl or in your glass. It’s impossible to share all the dishes I relish, so let me serve up three delightfully delicious recipes for you to enjoy pumpkin this season — sweet, savory and refreshing — and to guarantee your harvest is not wasted.
Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (shown above)
Sharing cookies with families and friends has become a tradition, and this recipe is a favorite with hot chocolate.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 14 minutes
Total time: about 35 minutes
Yield: about 3 dozen
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups old-fashioned oats
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
• ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup brown sugar
• ¼ cup honey
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup pumpkin puree*
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
• ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease three cookie sheets. In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; set aside.
In another bowl, whip together butter, brown sugar and honey until creamy. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Slowly add in dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Drop teaspoon-sized portions of the dough onto your prepared baking sheets. Space them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Pumpkin Johnny Apple Cocktail
Whether I’m serving this drink at an intimate get-together around the fireplace or at a festive autumn party, this refresher is always a hit.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
• 7 ounces of unfiltered apple juice
• 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree*
• 1 teaspoon honey
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ⅛ teaspoon fresh ginger
• 1 pinch nutmeg
• 1 pinch ground clove
• 3 ounces dark rum
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with gusto, pour over crushed ice, and serve.
Savory Pumpkin Quinoa
This creamy risotto pairs well with chicken. Or substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock and serve it up as a hearty vegetarian main course. I enjoy preparing this dish when I want a special seasonal touch for a fall gathering.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
• 4 tablespoons butter, divided
• 3 shallots or small sweet Vidalia onions, minced
• 1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed well and drained
• 1 cup water
• 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
• ¾ cup pumpkin puree*
• ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, set aside ¼ cup for garnish
• 16 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
• 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh sage, finely minced, set aside 1 tablespoon for garnish
• Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
In a 4-quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots or onions and sauté until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the quinoa. Stir constantly as moisture cooks away. When the quinoa begins to toast slightly, add water and continue to stir constantly on low heat until water is absorbed.
Slowly pour in 2 cups of the stock, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add another cup of stock, stir, and simmer for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix in the remaining cup of stock and pumpkin puree. Stir; simmer uncovered until all of the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock, if needed. Quinoa should be tender and cooked completely. Blend in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.
In another large skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt over medium heat. Toss in the sliced mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms start to brown and soften. Stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh sage. Continue cooking until mushrooms are buttery browned and fragrant.
Top each serving of quinoa with sautéed mushrooms. Garnish with fresh sage and cheese.
Easy Fresh Pumpkin Puree
For recipes that call for puree, skip the canned stuff and prepare your own with pumpkin picked fresh from the patch. If you didn’t include pumpkin in your garden this year, pay a visit to your local farmers’ market or check your area for a “U-pick” farm.
Once you have your pumpkin, start by rinsing the exterior in cool water. Cut the pumpkin in half with a serrated knife. Discard the stem and stringy insides clinging to the meat. An ice cream scoop is perfect for scraping out the inside — save the seeds to roast for a tasty snack.
Boil the rind gently in water until it’s soft, or bake it in the oven with the cut side facedown for 45 to 50 minutes at 325 degrees. Then peel off the skin, and mash the flesh with a potato masher or put it in a food processor. The amount of puree will vary, based on the size of your pumpkin.