A Profusion of Pumpkin
What to do with all those extra pumpkins after Halloween
You buy one, your roommate buys one, then your mom brings one over ... next thing you know you've got three pumpkins on the stoop and not one of them's been carved. You can't just let them rot. Cook with them! Here are a handful of recipes culled from new cookbooks that won't make you think of pumpkin pie and won't ruin Thanksgiving a month early.
Winter Squash Stuffed with Piñon Dressing
Adapted from The Ethnic Vegetarian, by Angela Shelf Medaris (Rodale, paperback, $18.95). The book is a compendium of traditional and modern recipes from Africa, America and the Caribbean; Medaris is also the author of two cookbooks about African-American cooking.
You can use any winter squash for this recipe, but look for mini pumpkins known as Sweet Dumplings or Jack-be-Littles and buy one for each guest. You can use any combination of mushrooms for the stuffing, including buttons, morels, chanterelles or oysters.
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large green or red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and chopped
3-4 ounces assorted mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 cups coarse, dried bread crumbs
2 cups cornbread crumbs
1 cups shelled, roasted piñons
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg, beaten
1 cup vegetable broth, halved lengthwise
8 mini pumpkins
For the dressing
1) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
2) Add the bread crumbs, cornbread crumbs, pine nuts, thyme, sage, salt, black pepper and rosemary to the vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Remove from the heat. Stir in the egg. Add the vegetable broth, 1/4 cup at a time, until the stuffing is moist but not wet.
For the pumpkins
1) Preheat oven to 375° F.
2) Scoop out the seeds and fibers of the pumpkins, leaving about 1/3 inch shell. (You may want to reserve the seeds for toasting.)
3) Brush cut surfaces with a thin film of oil and place pumpkins, cut side up, on a sheet pan. Mount about 1/4 cup of the dressing into each pumpkin half.
4) Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until squash is soft and wrinkled.
Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Simply Elegant Soup by George Morrone (Ten Speed Press, hardcover, $27.95), former chef of San Francisco's Aqua and the Fifth Floor. His new restaurant is Tartare. In the book, Morrone serves this soup alongside a cream of parsnip soup.
1 sugar pumpkin (about 5 pounds)
1 tablespoon grapeseed, safflower or canola oil
Kosher salt and cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large white onion, diced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more as needed
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil or hazelnut oil
Pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin
1) Preheat the oven to 325° F.
2) cut the pumpkin in half vertically and scoop out the seeds and fibers; clean and reserve the seeds.
3) Place the pumpkin in a roasting pan, drizzle the flesh with the grapeseed oil and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Turn the pumpkin flesh-side down and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender.
4) Prepare the reserved pumpkin seeds by tossing them in a bowl with the olive oil. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and evenly spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
5) To prepare the soup, melt the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent; do not let the mixture brown.
6) Scoop out the flesh from the roasted pumpkin and add to the saucepan. Add 4 cups of the stock and the cayenne pepper, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Add the cream and return to a boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor in batches, and purée until smooth.
7) Pass the mixture through a medium-fine strainer into a clean saucepan. Adjust the consistency of the soup with the remaining 1 cup stock, as needed. Adjust the seasoning with salt and cayenne pepper.
8) Serve warm, garnished with pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin Pear Mini Soufflés
Adapted from Everyday Dining with Wine (Broadway, hardcover, $29.95) by Andrea Immer, who is dean of wine studies at the French Culinary Institute in New York. She is one of only 11 women Master Sommeliers in the world.
When pumpkins aren't in season you can substitute 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin in this recipe. Look for canned pear nectar in the Mexican foods section or in the juice section of your supermarket.
The spices in this dessert connect beautifully with sweet wines based on the Gewürtztraminer grape. She recommends you serve these soufflés with late harvest Gewürtraminers from Hogue Cellars, Colombia Crest or Navarro.
1 1/2 pounds fresh pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 cup pear nectar
1 large pear, peeled, cored and grated
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 granulated sugar
5 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Confectioner's sugar for dusting, optional
1) Roast pumpkin at 350° F. for 20 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a blender or food processor and purée.
2) Combine pumpkin, pear nectar, pear, brown sugar, cloves and allspice in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Scrape into a bowl and cool completely.
3) Heat the oven to 450° F. Butter and sugar eight 1-cup soufflé mold or straight-sided coffee cups, knocking out any excess sugar.
4) Measure 1 1/2 cups of the pumpkin-pear butter into a large bowl, reserving any extra for another use. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat. With a large whisk, incorporate 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin-pear butter. With a clean rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining whites into the mixture until smooth.
5) Scoop the soufflé batter into the prepared molds and level the surfaces with a spatula. Run your finger around the top edge of each mold to create a moat at the mold's rim. This cleans off excess batter and helps the soufflés rise. (The soufflés can be covered lightly with plastic and frozen for up to a week. Place in the oven straight from the freezer.)
6) Place the molds on a cookie sheet, put the sheet on the lowest rack of the oven, and bake 5 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 425° F and continue baking until the soufflés have risen about 2 inches above the mold, about 2 minutes.
7) Serve immediately, by placing the hot ramekins onto dessert plates. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar if desired. Be sure to let the guests know the molds are very hot.