Savory Pumpkin Dishes

Here we are, ready for another fall full of pumpkin delight. Pumpkin treats as big as the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin, or the harvest moon. We’d be hard pressed to imagine fall without pumpkin.
Everyone knows, in the fall, pumpkin flavored “anything” is all that and a bag of chips. And it really can be your go-to chip! Much like the popular root vegetable chips, such as sweet potato, red and golden beets, or even apple chips, pumpkin can be peeled, sliced thinly with a mandoline, brushed with olive and basically dehydrated in the oven. A sprinkling of sea salt, rosemary, and sage will take this cool new chip over the top! Dip it in your favorite creamy sour cream-based dip. These chips are loaded with flavor so they taste great on their own. Let’s make this the “new” pumpkin item of the year! Another savory pumpkin sensation is a cast iron skillet of pumpkin cornbread cooling on the kitchen counter. While this version of cornbread doesn’t possess a distinctive pumpkin flavor, the addition of pureed pumpkin adds moisture and packs in extra nutrients. Starting the cornbread on the stovetop in the cast iron skillet ensures the crispy edges but leaves the inside pillow-y soft. It pairs well with soups, chilis and stews just in time for those cool fall evenings. Or cook up a big pot of beans and serve with a wedge of pumpkin cornbread topped with butter. Pasta and pumpkin are a match made in heaven. Pumpkin puree, toasted and seasoned similarly to mole, lends itself to the creamiest of sauces in this recipe. Add a sprinkle of toasted pumpkins seeds for a little crunch. The pumpkin mixture in this recipe can also be used as a filling for homemade ravioli. To complete the ravioli, top with a quick brown butter-sage sauce. Pumpkin puree is simple to make fresh for your favorite fall treats, and can be easily frozen for later use. Blend up a batch using the following method. Canned pumpkin works well, too, but be sure it is pure pumpkin “puree” and not canned pumpkin pie filling.

Pumpkin Puree
Choose a small pie pumpkin. Clean outside with damp paper towel. Cut pumpkin in half from end to end with sharp knife. Remove seeds, membranes and strings. Brush interior of pumpkin halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and place the halves cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated 350° oven. Allow to cool, then scoop out the flesh and transfer to a blender. Outer skin will be soft and separate easily from the flesh; discard outer skin. Puree in blender on low speed for 1 minute, or until smooth. Note: Pumpkin puree can be used to make these cornbread and pasta recipes, and for your favorite sweet treats such as pumpkin candy, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin milk shakes.
Tip: Extra puree can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze it for in an airtight container for up to 3 months. This method can be used to prepare larger pumpkins, as well. Don’t forget to wash and dry the seeds to make pumpkin seed snacks!
Toast in the oven and sprinkle with salt or other savory seasonings while they are still hot. It’s not all about the pumpkin lattes, pumpkin ice cream, or pumpkin fudge. The pumpkin trends are fun, but it’s time for new ones. Move over, sweet pumpkin treats, make way for the new kids in town!

PUMPKIN CHIPS
1 small pie pumpkin
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
10 sage leaves, stacked and finely chopped
Sea salt, such as Maldon’s

Preheat oven to 325°. Line 4 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove peel, stem, and seeds from pumpkin, scraping inside clean. Cutting pumpkin in half will make this easier.
Cut halves into quarters. Care- fully slice each quarter into very thin slices with a mandoline slicer, minding your fingertips (use mandoline safety guard if yours came with one). Brush prepared baking sheets with half of the oil.
Place sliced pumpkin onto prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and spread with fingertips to coat top sides of each slice.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes.
Rotate baking sheets.
Continue baking for 7 minutes.
Flip each slice over and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Paper thin slices will be ready, but if some of the slices are thicker they may require a few more minutes in the oven.
While pumpkin chips are baking, use a mortar and pestle to blend the rosemary, sage, salt. The back of a spoon on the cutting board will also work in place of a mortar and pestle.
Sprinkle chips with salt mixture immediately upon removing from oven. Let cool 15 minutes.

PUMPKIN CORNBREAD
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon butter

Preparation
In large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Whisk milk, oil, eggs into dry ingredients. Whisk in pumpkin puree until well combined.
Preheat oven to 400°. Heat butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat. Pour batter into skillet. Cook on stovetop for 1 minute. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve hot with additional butter. Serves 8

CREAMY PUMPKIN PASTA
Ingredients
12 ounces dry pasta, such as shells
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, peeled, and smashed
2 shallots, peeled, and finely diced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups reserved pasta water or broth
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds
Grated parmesan cheese to serve

Preparation
Prepare pasta per package instructions, timing it with the completion of the sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and shallots for 5 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Add the oregano, salt, pepper flakes, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir for 30 to 60 sec- onds, slightly toasting the spices. Push to the side and add remaining oil. Add pumpkin puree, stirring to mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the pumpkin mixture toast in the skillet for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. It will thicken slightly.
Add the pasta water or broth to the thickened mixture and stir to combine; cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring often.
Add mascarpone cheese and butter to the sauce, stirring until cheese is melted.
Serve sauce over prepared pasta and top with toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, and grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.