Top 10 pumpkin recipes of all time!
Well, just some our family’s favourite recipes… But before I get onto the list, can we perhaps pause a moment and consider this amazing vegetable?
Did you know, for instance, that pumpkins have been cultivated for over 8,000 years, or that there are over 100 varieties, and that they are grown all over the world?
We know pumpkins are used in savoury and sweet recipes, but this is just the start of their versatility: every part of the plant is edible, including the skin, seeds, leaves and flowers; they can be fried, mashed, steamed, stewed, roasted and candied; scooped-out and carved they turn into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween; and they can even become recreational objects in the activity know as ‘pumpkin chunking’ (where pumpkins are hurled as far as possible using various mechanical devices).
They can be any size you like; from something as little as a big marble to something as large as a small car. They are also packed with nutrients, including all those carotenes in the orange flesh which converts to vitamin A in our body, but also accounts for the pumpkin’s rich nutty caramel taste on our palate – the same characteristics as the similar tasting carrots and sweet potatoes.
There is another important quality inherent in the pumpkin that is also shared with carrots and sweet potatoes – sweetness. A pumpkin is full of sugar (1 kilo of pumpkin can include nearly 7 teaspoons of sugar). So, although widely used in savoury dishes, you are just as likely to find pumpkin in sweet dishes, such as cookies, muffins, cakes, puddings and pies – yes, especially pies!
No traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without a pumpkin pie. Indeed, pumpkin pie is probably more American and traditional than the proverbial apple pie.
Here in the UK, pumpkin pie is a bit of a curiosity. Few people will know this sweet and warmly spiced dessert, unless perchance, they have joined in an American celebration over Thanksgiving. Neither might they appreciate Americans’ respect for the pumpkin as an important symbol of autumn harvest, which is why it is often used to decorate hearths, mantles, and tables. And, although Americans cook pumpkin in their raw state, they are perhaps most familiar with pumpkin as a puree in a tin; mainly made by Libby’s, which produces 85% of America’s processed pumpkin. Undoubtedly, the main use for this puree is to make pumpkin pie – the recipe is always printed on the back of the tin.
All of which leads me back to my list – and of course, at number one is:
- Pumpkin pie – an open-topped baked pie – really a pumpkin pudding in a pie crust. Americans might use a sweet biscuit base or non-sweet shortcrust pastry, and neither are usually pre-baked. The pie is made distinctive by generous use of warm winter spices – cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and especially cinnamon – which might also explain why it is best served with floppy whipped cream. Certainly, America’s favourite pumpkin recipe.
- Pumpkin pudding. Really a pumpkin pie without the pastry – or in other words a pumpkin-baked custard. Our mother’s favourite – she almost always served it ‘split’ from over-baking – in this case, a deliberate ploy.
- Pumpkin muffins. The same warm spices combine with the rich sweetening effect of added pumpkin. Mrs WDCs favourite.
- Pumpkin whoopie pies. In pre-pandemic days our families tried to share Thanksgiving as far as our diverse residences and diaries would allow. In recent years, my sister has shared many Thanksgivings at ours and in the true spirit of sharing, she always comes bearing gifts and edible delights, which one year included pumpkin whoopie pies. Now our grandchildren’s favourite.
- Pumpkin fritters. My brother-in-law’s favourite, made in his one-time favourite restaurant, Zucca, in Bermondsey Street, sadly long gone. Serve these treats as a starter with fresh cold creamy dips.
- Pumpkin risotto. A family favourite – and perhaps now a bit of a signature dish of WDC. A well-made risotto needs little else – but we like to eat risotto as a secondo rather than a primo course, so we generally add in some of our 5-a-day. Pumpkin works a treat.
- Pumpkin ravioli. I have not made this, but when I do it will become a favourite and about number 7 on this list.
- Haurmi’s candied pumpkin with sesame seeds. I’ll post a recipe soon. Very Japanese and very tasty.
- Turkish baked pumpkin with caramelised onions with a spicy sundried tomato sauce. This is deceptively good and makes a great addition to a Levantine mezze.
- Roast pumpkin and sausages. Autumn and winter comfort food and a match made in heaven.