by Michael Vyskocil   photography by Tara Hope Cofiell

There’s something about pumpkin that captures attentions and appetites at this time of year.

The word pumpkin, surprisingly enough, isn’t a true botanical term by any means. Cucurbita (pronounced kew-CUR-bit-a) is the genus that encompasses pumpkins, squash and gourds, and the proper term for all Cucurbita is squash.

Could you imagine your favorite coffee chain blending up iced squash lattes? We think imprecise terminology can be forgiven at this time of year.

This collection of pumpkin recipes celebrates the Cucurbita in all its glory, from savory to sweet.

 

cm65_taste_pancakesPumpkin Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup buttermilk
8 tablespoons fresh or canned pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon, for griddle
1 large egg

  1. Preheat griddle over medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, pumpkin purée, butter and egg. Fold pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients.
  3. Lightly coat griddle with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Pour about ¼ cup batter for each pancake onto the griddle. Cook pancakes for about 3 to 4 minutes per side; serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 pancakes.

cm65_taste_butterApple-Pumpkin Butter

Slather this spicy but not-too-sweet spread on biscuits or toast.

2 pounds firm apples, such as Empire, Fuji or Granny Smith, cut into quarters
2 cups fresh pumpkin purée or one 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
1 cup apple cider
2 cups light-brown sugar, packed
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Place apples, pumpkin purée and cider in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the apples are soft, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pass the mixture through a food mill and return the mixture to the saucepan.
  2. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thick and caramel-colored, about 2 to 3 hours. Be sure to monitor the mixture on a regular basis during cooking to prevent the mixture from scorching.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool completely. Serve or keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Makes about 3 cups.

cm65_taste_sideRoasted Pumpkin, Pears and Potatoes with Goat Cheese

1 medium (about 2 pound) pie pumpkin or 2-pound butternut squash, halved, seeded and cut into 8 wedges
1 pound small white potatoes, halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 medium pears, cored and cut into wedges
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 ounces aged goat cheese, such as Bucheron
¼ cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large (15-by-10-by-2-inch) roasting pan, toss the pumpkin or butternut squash wedges and potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Spread vegetables in pan. Roast, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, stirring vegetables once halfway through the cooking time.
  2. Toss the garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Scatter garlic over vegetables in pan. Roast for 10 minutes more.
  3. Toss the pears with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the fresh thyme. Add pears to pan. Roast 15 minutes more.
  4. Drizzle vegetables and pears with the balsamic vinegar; toss to coat evenly. Transfer roasted vegetables to an ovenproof platter. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Place platter in oven and bake for 2 minutes to warm the cheese slightly. Sprinkle with walnuts; serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

cm65_taste_piePumpkin Whoopie Pies

For the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 ¾ cups fresh or canned pumpkin purée, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Seven-Minute Frosting
3 large egg whites
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg; set aside.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, combine the dark-brown sugar and vegetable oil. Add pumpkin purée and stir until combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract; stir until combined. Gradually incorporate flour mixture, stirring into pumpkin mixture until flour mixture is evenly combined.
  4. Using a small ice-cream scoop with a spring-release component, drop tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing mounds of dough about 1 to 2 inches apart. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until cookies begin to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool completely on pan.
  5. To make the frosting: Bring a large saucepan of water to a rapid boil over medium heat. Whisk egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar in a medium heatproof bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set bowl over saucepan. With a handheld electric mixer, beat mixture constantly on high speed for 7 minutes.
  6. Remove bowl from heat. Add vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is stiff and glossy. Use frosting immediately.
  7. Assemble the whoopie pies: Once cookies are completely cool, spread about 2 tablespoons of frosting on the flat side of one-half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies halves, pressing down slightly so that the frosting spreads to the edges of the cookies. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving. Keep covered in an airtight container up to 3 days. Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies. 

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