Written and Photographed By: Marye Audet
Every Texan knows that the first day of fall is not a date on the calendar. It is not the first blush of color on the leaves nor the scent of fresh apples. In Texas, autumn begins when the entire landscape is bathed in a golden glow and the breeze that ruffles your hair in the morning could be described as not scorching hot.
Some years this happens in October and some years it may occur in November, but anyone that has lived in the Lone Star State for even one year understands. Just when Texans think that they may be getting tired of yet another watermelon, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and roadside stands are suddenly full of pumpkins. Local coffee shops begin offering pumpkin flavored coffee, the ice cream freezer at the store is full of pumpkin ice cream, and pumpkin pies are everywhere.
For those who have always thought of this beloved harbinger of fall as a dessert of muffin ingredient, it is time to take another look at this versatile (and healthy) fruit. These recipes call for a solid pack pumpkin, readily available in a can at the store. If you do not mind the extra work, it is possible to buy the small pie pumpkins and make pumpkin puree at home. Just cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and strings, and bake (cut sides down) until tender. Then remove the flesh from the shell and blend it until smooth.
Yields 1 Quart
The addition of pumpkin is an unusual twist on a Texas classic. Pumpkin salsa is rich and smoky with a spicy bite from the chipotle. It is perfect for dipping chips or spooning over a grilled chicken breast.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped, fresh tomatoes
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 2 14.5-ounce cans RoTel fire roasted tomatoes and chilies
- 1 15-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons mashed chipotle in adobo
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspon ginger
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan.
- Add the tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
- Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Stir in the RoTel tomatoes (do not drain), pumpkin, mashed chipotle, lime juice, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt, and ginger.
- Remove from heat.
- Allow to cool to room temperature and stir in the cilantro.
- Let sit for 30 minutes before serving for the flavors to blend.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Creamy Pumpkin Ancho Risotto
Yields 6 Servings
Risotto is an elegant side dish that is relatively easy to make. In order to produce the creamy texture for which this dish is known, use a specific type of rice, Arborio. Pumpkin and Ancho peppers give it a fall flavor, the dish pairs perfectly with roast pork or chicken.
- 4 to 5 cups no-salt added chicken or vegetable stock or broth
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 dried Ancho pepper, seeded, stemmed, and chopped into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin puree
- 6 tablespoons coarsely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the stock and nutmeg to a simmer.
- Maintain it at a simmer while preparing the risotto.
- Heat a heavy pan until very hot.
- Add the oil and reduce the heat to medium high.
- Sauté the onion, Ancho pepper, and garlic until the onion begins to be translucent.
- Stir in the rice and coat it well with the oil.
- Add the wine and stir until the wine evaporates.
- Add 1 cup of the hot stock and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Repeat with another cup of the stock.
- Continue to add the stock, stirring until the rice has absorbed most of it before adding the next batch of stock until the rice is tender but not mushy.
- Stir in the pumpkin, cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until mixture is warmed through.
Yields 4 Servings
Pumpkin gives creamy Alfredo sauce a beautiful color and a delicate, nutty flavor. Fettucine is traditional to this dish, but the shape of Gemelli pasta holds more of the delicious sauce!
- 8 ounces pasta of choice
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some for sprinkling on top of the finished dish
- 1 cup solid pack pumpkin
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- A pinch of nutmeg
- About 1 cup pasta water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to packing instructions.
- Drain, reserving 1-2 cups of the water.
- Melt the butter in a large pan.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, do not brown.
- Add the cream, cheese, pumpkin, sage, and nutmeg.
- Stir until smooth.
- Add enough o the hot pasta water to get a smooth, creamy sauce.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Add the pasta to the pan and heat for a minute or two.
- Serve garnished with more grated cheese.