Pumpkins are a symbol of Autumn, as they appear on our tables at Thanksgiving, decorate our homes in October, and are a much-anticipated flavour for our lattes. They are delicious in pies and have made a breakthrough in the offerings of baked goods.

Every fall we can expect to see the much anticipated pumpkin pie served for dessert at home and in restaurants in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Pumpkin spice lattes are one of the first indicators of the fall season, when we see them on the menus at our favourite cafes and coffee shops.

Although it’s not too tasty to eat on it’s own, our ancestors figured many years ago out how to turn this fleshy vegetable into something quite delicious when cooked and prepared in the right way.

Sweet or savoury, the squash can be a great addition in many dishes served over the holidays this fall and winter.

Here is an overview for some pumpkin dishes trending on recipe apps and cooking blogs. You can search for a variety of complete recipes easily online.

Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin and Ricotta

This tasty dish which is served at many Italian restaurants, can be made in your very own kitchen. It begins with homemade pasta dough, using flour, eggs, olive oil, salt and water. The shells are stuffed with a creamy mix of pumpkin and ricotta—a soft, white Italian cheese. Served with a sage butter sauce or marinara sauce, you can get creative with herbs and seasonings to give this creation your personal touch.

Fun Facts about Pumpkin for the Dinner Table

Carving pumpkins for Halloween has become a popular tradition, especially in North America. Did you know that the tradition of a carved pumpkin illuminated by a candle, known as a ‘jack-o-lantern’, is believed to have come from Ireland? e Irish used to carve faces into turnips, beets and other root vegetables as part of the Gaelic festival of Samhain.

Early North American settlers began cooking pumpkin pies in the 1600s, where they began to incorporate ‘pumpkin spice’ into their cooking. Pumpkin spice (a blend of cinnamon, all spice, clove and ginger) does not however contain any pumpkin avour at all. e name comes from it’s association with pumpkin cakes and pies.

Sweet Pickled Pumpkin

This sweet and tangy preserve could be your family’s next holiday tradition. To be served on a tray with cheese and crackers, as a condiment for the main course, or on top of ice cream, sweet pickled pumpkin is a simple treat to make. Using cubes of diced peeled pumpkin, all you need is a mason jar, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon, for a preserve you can store and enjoy throughout the year.

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes

Add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to your favourite pancake recipe, for a twist that’s both delicious, and nutritious, as pumpkins are high in fibre. Be sure to follow close attention to your chosen recipe to ensure the ratio of pumpkin puree is accurate with the amount of flour you use. You can sub maple syrup for pumpkin sauce. Simply heat 1 cup of maple syrup with 1 1/4 cups of canned pumpkin and 1/4 tea- spoon of cinnamon on the stove top, to create a warm, syrupy mixture. Suitable for low-carb and Paleo diets, there are tons of recipes which use almond or coconut flour as an alternative.

Pumpkin and Corn Risotto

Inspired by fall ingredients, this creative side dish is perfect to serve with your holiday feast. Basic Italian risotto is arborio rice cooked to a creamy consistency on the stove, by adding butter and parmesan cheese. Pumpkin and corn risotto recipes typically call for normal rice, vegetable stock, and mozzarella cheese.

Tarragon and Pumpkin Scones

Savoury scones go well with cured meats, aged cheeses, and savoury jams—made with ingredients like tomatoes and peppers, rather than sweet fruits. Trending on Pinterest, the original recipe for Tarragon and Pumpkin Scones comes from Reader’s Digest, using cooked, mashed pumpkin and fresh tarragon leaves. The special ingredient is a little parmesan cheese to help enhance the pumpkin Flavour.

Honey Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Why serve plain white or whole wheat bread, when you can offer honey pumpkin dinner rolls? Add pumpkin puree and honey to the bread mixture, for deliciously sweet rolls, topped with pumpkin, sesame, and poppy seeds.

Potato and Pumpkin Gratin

‘Gratin’ is a culinary technique where the ingredients are topped with a browned crust. In a deep baking dish, alternate between layers of potatoes and pumpkin puree. Top with the breadcrumbs, eggs, and melted cheese and bake in the oven to perfect the crispy gratin style. Try using skim milk and parmesan cheese for a healthier alternative.

Pumpkin Tots

A healthier alternative from regular tater tots using potatoes, pumpkin tot recipes combine canned pumpkin, flour, and breadcrumbs. You can bake the tots in the oven, or pan-fry them in oil for extra crispiness. Add cheese and seasoning to the tot mixture to give extra flavour, and serve with sour cream, bacon bits and chives to garnish, or load them up with chili to make a complete meal.

Lebanese Pumpkin Hummus

Classic hummus, made from chickpeas, is a dish commonly associated with Israel. Lebanese Pumpkin Hummus, as the name suggests, is a recipe which comes from Lebanon, and uses pumpkin, along with the traditional hummus ingredients of tahini, lemon and garlic. You’ll need to bake or steam the pumpkin to soften it before making the creamy mixture in a food processor. Serve the dip with toasted pita, sour dough chips, or veggies for an Autumn-inspired appetizer.

Caramelized Pumpkin Pizza

This gourmet-style, thin-crust pizza is certainly fancier than your Friday night delivery. Start with a thin crust pizza base, white or whole wheat, and top with marinara sauce. If you enjoy a white-sauce pizza, try a recipe that uses cream cheese, olive oil, or low fat yogurt. Caramelize the pumpkin with onions and mushrooms in a frying pan separately, then add them to the base for a final bake. Top with parmesan cheese and arugula, or any toppings of your choice.

Savoury Pumpkin Pie

Taken from a recipe on the Rachael Ray Show, Savoury Pumpkin Pie is intended to be part of the main course, with cheese dominating the flavour rather than sugar. It’s not much different from the kind you serve for dessert, other than of course sharp, yellow cheese being a key ingredient along with chili powder. The recipe calls for brown sugar to maintain a little sweetness.

Pumpkin Vegetable Casserole

Casseroles can be made with a variety of vegetables and meat, cooked in the oven in a deep dish with stock and other ingredients. It’s no surprise that pumpkin can be added to a vegetable casserole to give it some extra flavour. Cauliflower pumpkin casserole combines roasted cauliflower and cheddar cheese, or try other root vegetables like squash, rutabagas and carrots. Look up pumpkin and sweet potato casserole for a new addition to the dessert table.

Guilt-free Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Who says you can’t have a little dessert? No need to cringe at the thought of breaking your diet around the holidays. Indulge in a slice of Crustless Pumpkin Pie.

With many variations available on recipe apps, a majority call for egg whites, sugar substitute, and fat free milk, and eliminate the need for pastry all together. Serve with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, and go for an autumn walk after dinner.

These are just a taste of all the possible ways to use pumpkin in your cooking and baking this season. A simple Google search, or the download of a recipe app is all you need to gather plenty of ideas to give you the inspiration you need to discover the many ways you can use pumpkin. Pick up canned pumpkin at the grocery store, or pick your own at one of Niagara’s local pumpkin farms.