Though canned pumpkin puree stars in many of our favorite baked goods, fresh-picked pumpkin isn’t as widely used, even when it’s in season. As it turns out, fresh pumpkins have uses beyond jack-o’-lantern carving: Cooking with this tender-when-roasted squash variety brings a hearty, mildly sweet element to many of our favorite fall dishes. This season, use a little elbow grease to break down fresh, in-season pumpkin so you can use it in some of fall’s finest good-for-you recipes.
1. Next time you crave innately creamy risotto, bring morsels of diced, semisweet pumpkin into the mix. This Creamy Baked Pumpkin Risotto, made extra-creamy and luxurious with the addition of mascarpone cheese, is cooked in the oven so you won’t have to stand over the stove for endless stirring.
2. Amplify the sweetness of standard pumpkin soup by bringing in juicy (and also in-season) apples. The Honeycrisp variety, as well as chopped sage, adds multiple layers of flavor to this healthy Pumpkin-Apple Soup, which gets a garnish of chopped peanuts on top.
3. If you haven’t considered fresh pumpkin as a contender for your side dishes, meet Anne Burrell’s Curried Pumpkin with Caramelized Onions. Cooked low and slow for over an hour, this mild, slightly sweet squash variety becomes dynamic with a seasoning of garam masala, red pepper flakes and toasted green pumpkin seeds.
4. Scoop out a pumpkin’s flesh to make way for a festive fall presentation of Food Network Magazine’s Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls. Use the hollow pumpkin as a vehicle for this healthy, creamy, slightly sweet soup, and bits of roasted and tender pumpkin will work their way into your spoonfuls.
5. Bring another side of fresh pumpkin into your comfort food dishes. Turkey and Pumpkin Seed Chili may not call for the flesh of the fall favorite, but the pumpkin’s seeds bring a satisfying crunchy element to warming, good-for-you and cocoa-spiked chili.
Get even more healthy ways to cook with both fresh and pureed pumpkin here.