From Asia to the Middle East, Mexico to the United States, cuisines the world over use pumpkin in a dizzying variety of ways. We've collected recipes and tips for Halloween celebrations and beyond.
Breads and Breakfasts
Soups, Starters, and Sides
Use the Whole Pumpkin
For a festive touch, try serving soup in bowls made from hollowed-out pumpkins: Cut tops off several small pumpkins, remove seeds, and scrape inside walls clean. Wash thoroughly with warm water, place pumpkins on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes until hot (this will help keep the soup warm). Ladle soup into "bowls" and serve.
Save Larger Pumpkins for Carving
For cooking, look for small sugar pumpkins rather than the larger ones used for jack-o'-lanterns. The smaller varieties are sweeter, fleshier, and less watery.
Use Pure Pumpkin
For many baked goods, canned pumpkin purée is as good or better than fresh. Look for cans labeled "solid-pack" rather than "pumpkin pie filling" (which has other ingredients added).
Prep the Crust
When making cream or custard pies, it's helpful to partially bake the bottom crust before filling. This is called "blind baking" and helps ensure that moisture from the filling doesn't make the crust soggy. To blind-bake a crust, lightly prick the bottom all over with a fork (this will prevent air bubbles from forming). Line with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans (these will keep the dough flat during baking). Bake until pale golden, remove weights, then fill and bake again, covering edges with foil to prevent overbrowning.
Select the Right Seeds
When a recipe calls for pumpkin seeds, generally they're the hulled green variety called pepitas that are used in Mexican cooking and available in many supermarkets and health food stores. The unhulled seeds obtained when carving a jack-o'-lantern can also be eaten -- they're delicious toasted and sprinkled with salt. Simply separate from the pulp, rinse, drain, and roast.
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