The fall is definitely here, and that means I start getting cravings for warm, comforting foods. I welcome this season for many reasons--not just because fall is my favorite with all its colors and crisp days, but because it's pumpkin time!
Pumpkin is one of my favorite foods, since it can be turned into so many different dishes and it never lets you down. You can make creamy soup in no time, add pumpkin into a risotto, or make a sweet and delicious dessert out of it.
Pumpkin is healthy too. It's full of fiber, which keeps you full longer; antioxidants, which help to keep your eyes healthy; and potassium, which can have a positive effect on blood pressure. All the more reason to indulge in some delicious seasonal recipes!
1. Butternut Pumpkin Risotto
Credit: Arno Enzerink
I love risotto. It is always so filling and rich that it simply puts me in a good mood. This recipe is one of the best risottos I have ever tasted! It is creamy, tasty, and comforting, making it a perfect treat for a crisp fall day. Risotto always takes a bit of a time to make; it certainly isn’t fast food, but it makes up for it in the end with the full flavors. Try this recipe with butternut squash, which has a nutty, sweet flavor.
- 15 g butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1⁄2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup diced pumpkin (I use butternut)
- 3 -4 cups hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Heat butter and oil together in a large saucepan or frypan.
- Gently cook the onion and garlic.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring until the rice is coated in the oil mix.
- Cook this about 1 minute.
- Stir in the pumpkin and mushrooms.
- Pour over 1 cup of the hot stock.
- Cook, stirring often until the liquid is almost all absorbed.
- You don't want the liquid to be boiling in with the rice, just a gentle simmer.
- Continue stirring and adding stock one cup at a time until the stock is all absorbed and the rice is tender.
- This takes about 20 minutes.
- You don't need to stand there stirring the whole time if you use a non-stick pot and return often.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese,seasoning and parsley.
- It will go lovely and sticky with the cheese.
- Serve immediately.
2. Easy Pumpkin Soup
Credit: Kaisa Kapanen
Life should be easy, and I certainly need recipes that are quick to make yet fresh and tasty. This recipe is all those things. It keeps life simple, because you only need few simple ingredients for a warm, nourishing meal. My tip for busy people: Stock up on frozen pumpkin blocks so you can whip up this recipe in no time. I promise it will taste just as creamy and good as fresh pumpkin.
- 1.2 kg / 2.4 lb pumpkin (any), unpeeled weight (Note 1)
- 1 onion, sliced (white, brown, yellow)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled whole
- 3 cups / 750ml vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
- 1 cup / 250 ml water
- Salt and pepper
1/2 - 3/4 cup / 125 - 185 ml cream or half and half (Note 2) or 3/4 cup / 185 ml milk (any type, I use low fat)
- Cut the pumpkin into 3cm / 2.25" slices. Cut the skin off and scrape seeds out (video is helpful). Cut into chunks.
- Place the pumpkin, onion, garlic, broth and water in a pot - liquid won't cover all the pumpkin. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce heat and let simmer rapidly until pumpkin is tender.
- Remove from heat and use a stick blender to blend until smooth. If you don't have a stick blender, use a blender - see notes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir through cream (never boil soup after adding soup, cream will split).
- Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle over a bit of cream, sprinkle with pepper and parsley if desired. Serve with crusty bread!
3. Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Did someone say cheesecake? I would never turn it down, and I bet you’re curious too. This is a classic cheesecake recipe with graham crackers as the base, a white cheesecake layer in the middle, and a spicy and sweet pumpkin layer on top to add a seasonal twist. There's only one hard part about cheesecake: it's best served chilled, so you'll have to wait a while.
For the crust:
- 14 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 7 1/2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the cheesecake layers:
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Make the crust:
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper, then coat with butter or cooking spray; set aside.
- Place the graham cracker pieces in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process into fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, drizzle with the butter, and pulse to combine. (If using graham cracker crumbs, just mix together with the sugar and butter in a bowl.) Sprinkle the mixture into the baking dish and press into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Place on a wire rack while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
- Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar and salt until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs 1 at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Dollop 3 1/2 cups of the mixture onto the crust and spread into an even layer; set aside.
- Add the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to the remaining filling and beat on low speed just until smooth and combined. Carefully dollop the pumpkin filling over the cheesecake layer and spread into an even layer.
- Bake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly, 40 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Using the foil, remove the cheesecake slab from the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into 24 pieces and serve.
4. Roasted Squash and Pine Nut Quinoa
This recipe combines my love of pumpkin with my enthusiasm for quinoa. Quinoa is a great ancient superfood rich in protein, essential amino acids, fiber, and iron. One of the reasons I love the recipes from Deliciously Ella is that her creations always use just a few main ingredients, making me actually want to cook! Plus, the recipes are very healthy.
- 1 squash
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 1/3 of a cup of pine nuts
- a dozen cherry tomatoes
- a large handful of long-stemmed broccoli
- 1 lime or lemon
- a handful of fresh coriander
- olive oil
- mixed dried herbs ( I like oregano, herbs de provence, thyme and rosemary)
For the Avocado Cream:
- 2 ripe avocados
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of water
- salt and pepper to taste
- I normally stir it into a quinoa bowl with tomatoes, long-stemmed broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms. It’s my go-to dish at the moment.
- Simply scoop the avocados out of their skin and place all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend them for a few minutes until a beautifully creamy paste forms.
- Slice the squash in half and peel of the skin, before chopping it into little cubes. Place the squares on a baking dish drizzled with olive oil, dried herbs, a teaspoon of paprika and a sprinkling of salt and then bake in a 190C oven for about 15-20 minutes, until deliciously soft.
- While the squash cooks make the quinoa. Simply add it to boiling water with the juice of one lime or lemon, some dried herbs and salt and and let it cook, it should take 10-15 minutes. Then chop the broccoli into segments and the coriander leaves into small pieces. After about 5 minutes add them and a little more lime to the cooking quinoa.
- Toast the pine nuts and in a frying pan on a high heat, this should take just 3 or 4 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn! They also won’t need olive oil as they release their own oil when heated.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and make the avocado cream.
- Once the quinoa and the squash are cooked stir them together along with the pine nuts, a drop more lime and the cherry tomatoes – do not cook the cherry tomatoes though.
- Once your have plated it add the avocado cream. Enjoy, it really is so delicious!
5. Pumpkin Banana Smoothie
How about a nourishing and seasonal smoothie after a relaxing yoga class? This recipe is made with pumpkin puree, which is easy to make at home by roasting a pumpkin in the oven, peeling off the skin, and pureeing in the blender.
As with any smoothie, you will get the best result with frozen banana. This way you will need less ice and your smoothie will have a richer taste. For a vegan version, substitute the milk or yoghurt with a plant-based alternative.
- 2 tablespoons canned pure pumpkin
- 5 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 1 banana, frozen
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- ¼ cup ice
- Add all of the ingredients together in a blender.
- Pulse for about 30 seconds and stir the ingredients making sure to scrape the sides.
- Pulse for another 30-60 seconds or until blended.
As you can see from even just a few recipes, pumpkin can transform into various wonderful treats, making them sweet and nutty. So make sure you stock up on both fresh and frozen pumpkin this season, and make some of your own pumpkin puree so these healthy snacks and recipes are fast and easy to make during a busy day. Enjoy!
What's your favorite pumpkin recipe of the season?