In Season: Pumpkins begin to ripen in September. Because they store well, pumpkins are available all through the fall and winter.
What to Look For: Make sure to choose a variety of pumpkin that's intended for cooking rather than for decoration. The ubiquitous field pumpkin -- the kind most commonly used to carve jack-o'-lanterns -- has watery, stringy flesh and is not recommended for eating. Sugar pumpkins and cheese pumpkins are two widely available varieties that are good for cooking and baking, thanks to their dense, sweet flesh.
How to Store: Pumpkins keep well at room temperature for up to a month. Stored in a cool cellar or refrigerator, they can last up to three months. Once cut, pumpkin pieces should be wrapped tightly and refrigerated. Use cut pumpkin within five days.
Heirloom-Squash and Pumpkin Pie
This pumpkin pie is lighter and fluffier than the traditional version, incorporating sweet winter squashes and a hint of sage (along with the usual spices) to give it depth.
For the Crust
1 small disk Pate Brisee
All-purpose flour, for surface
For the Filling
2 small pumpkins and/or sweet winter heirloom squashes, such as Triamble, red kabocha, or butternut (about 1 1/2 pounds total), cut into wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the crust: Roll out pate brisee to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under, and crimp as desired. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Drizzle pumpkin and squash wedges with olive oil, and roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender (times will vary).
3. Line crust with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges of crust begin to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and remove weights and parchment. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack.
4. Peel pumpkin and squash, and transfer flesh to a food processor. Puree until smooth.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Whisk pumpkin and squash puree, eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, brandy, sage, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.
6. Pour filling into pie shell, and smooth top using an offset spatula. Bake until just set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 1 hour (filling will continue to set as it cools). Let cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with whipped cream.
Yogurt makes these jumbo muffins especially light and tender, while pumpkin puree makes them moist. Whole-wheat flour and a walnut topping add fiber and flavor.
3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 large eggs
1 cup turbinado sugar, plus 2 tablespoons more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush 12 jumbo muffin tins (each with a 1-cup capacity) with oil; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs, and 1 cup sugar to combine; add 1 cup walnuts and reserved dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).
4. Divide evenly and spoon batter into muffin tins; sprinkle tops with remaining walnuts and sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Fresh pumpkin is roasted with onion and shiitake mushrooms until tender and sweet, then pureed to make a creamy (but cream-free!) soup. An immersion blender makes quick work of this simple, hearty soup.
2 3/4 pounds sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
2 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut pumpkin into 2-inch pieces. Combine pumpkin, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer. Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through. Let cool, then remove skins.
2. Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan; heat over medium. Pour in 2 cups stock; puree with an immersion blender until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, and puree until smooth. Bring soup just to a simmer. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
Fall's iconic orange gourd has a place beyond October 31: as pumpkin butter, a fiber-filled spread packed with beta-carotene. Chef Mary Dumont of Harvest restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, shares her take on this seasonal spread.
2 pounds peeled, seeded, and diced sugar pie pumpkin (substitute canned if needed)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1. In a stainless steel pot, combine pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, and salt; bring to a simmer. (If using fresh pumpkin, stir until it's tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.)
2. Continue simmering until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender; blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot and heat for 10 minutes on low until it reaches desired thickness. Remove, cool, and serve.
Traditional pumpkin pie gains depth of flavor with roasted fresh pumpkin and just the right amount of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Make extra pumpkin puree and freeze it so you can enjoy pumpkin desserts throughout the season.
1 sugar pumpkin (about 4 pounds), halved, or 3 cups solid-pack canned pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie filling)
1 1/2 recipes Pate Brisee, divide dough into 3 disks
All-purpose flour, for dusting
7 large eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups evaporated milk
Whipped cream, for serving
To prepare the pies in stages, make the dough and either freeze or refrigerate, then roll out, fit into pie plates, and chill again. The shells can be covered tightly and refrigerated for a day or two or frozen for longer (thaw in refrigerator before proceeding).
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using fresh pumpkin, roast it, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet until soft, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely. (Roasted pumpkin can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, overnight.) Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. Reserve 1 disk of dough for making leaf decorations. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out remaining disks into 14-inch rounds. Fit rounds into two 10-inch pie plates; trim edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhangs. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
3. Roll out reserved disk to a 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a small (about 1 inch) leaf-shape cookie cutter or a paring knife, cut leaves from dough. Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.
4. Brush edges of pie shells with a damp pastry brush; arrange leaves around edges, pressing to adhere. Whisk 1 egg and cream in a small bowl. Brush leaves with egg wash. Cut 2 large circles of parchment; fit into pie shells, extending above edges. Fill with pie weights or dried beans.
5. Bake pie shells 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool completely on wire racks.
6. If using fresh pumpkin, discard seeds. Scoop out flesh, using a large spoon, into a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure out 3 cups, and transfer pumpkin to a large bowl (reserve any remaining for another use; if using canned pumpkin, add that to the bowl instead). Add brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, remaining 6 eggs, and evaporated milk; whisk until combined.
7. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place pie shells on rimmed baking sheets. Divide pumpkin mixture evenly between shells. Bake until all but centers are set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let pies cool completely on wire racks. Cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream.
Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Icing
Moist pumpkin cake is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. A simple, sophisticated brown-butter icing and caramelized walnuts are the perfect finishing touch.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup Pumpkin Puree, or canned
1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) milk
Brown Butter Icing
Caramelized Walnut Halves
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line pan with parchment, and butter the parchment. Coat pan with flour, and tap out any excess.
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, and beat until combined. Add pumpkin puree and milk; beat until combined. Add reserved flour mixture; beat on low speed until just combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool. Let cake rest 20 minutes.
5. Unmold cake. Using an offset spatula, spread icing over top of cake, and decorate with caramelized walnut halves.
Rigatoni with Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese
This easy, satisfying pasta dish is full of tender roast pumpkin and tangy goat cheese. For an even quicker dinner, roast the pumpkin ahead of time and heat it up in the microwave just before tossing with the rigatoni.
Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces rigatoni
2 tablespoons butter
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Roasted Pumpkin with Shallots and Sage
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot. Add butter, cheese, and pasta water; toss until butter has melted.
2. Gently fold in roasted pumpkin; season with salt and pepper. Divide among serving bowls, and serve immediately.
More from Martha Stewart:
Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook
35 Beyond Delicious No-Bake Dessert Recipes
No-Mess One-Bowl Desserts: 12 Recipes for Lazy Bakers
You could sub pumpkin for the butternut squash in this hearty beef stew.