Pump Up the Pumpkin

How “Pumpkin Everything” Can Make Everything Amazing

November 2022 Issue
By Leslie Rohland
Photography by Lucy Rosen

There’s a lot more to pumpkin these days than the oh-so-popular pumpkin spice latte.  A longtime staple in a number of fall’s favorite breakfast foods, snacks and desserts, the distinctive taste of pumpkin (and the even more distinctive aroma and flavor of pumpkin spice) has expanded to now include delicious pumpkin-based appetizers, soups, salads and savory entrees. In fact, as you stroll down any grocery store aisle this month, you will be astounded at the incredible number of pumpkin-based and/or pumpkin-flavored foods lining the shelves, including pumpkin-flavored yogurts, cream cheese, hummus, English muffins, pretzels—and this year’s return of the limited-edition Pumpkin-Spiced Oreos (back this year after a four-year hiatus)!

There are many reasons why people love pumpkin-based foods and why they seem to gravitate towards them as soon as those first days of fall appear.  Much of it has to do with the fact that the warm, comforting smells of pumpkin and pumpkin spice are often tied closely to the arrival of fall and all of the nostalgic, happy memories of food, fun and family.  

Another reason for pumpkin’s rising popularity? In addition to its distinctive sweet and slightly nutty flavor, pumpkin is a nutrient-dense food, especially high in Vitamin A. In fact, it is believed that one cup of pumpkin contains more Vitamin A than a cup of kale, more potassium than a banana and more fiber than a half cup of quinoa. Experts have also pointed to numerous health benefits that pumpkin can have, helping with immunity, eye health, skin health, heart health and metabolic health.

This November, go beyond the predictable when it comes to pumpkin, and see just how versatile and delicious pumpkin can be. Here are just some of the ways I’ve incorporated the wonderful taste and texture of pumpkin into some of my most popular recipes: From a light but creamy Pumpkin Soup that will fill your kitchen with the smells of fall as it’s cooking, to a healthy, fresh Roasted Butternut Pumpkin Salad, to a savory Pumpkin Penne Pasta Alla Vodka. Yes! It all truly tastes as good as it sounds. And, of course, no menu would be complete without a signature pumpkin dessert, and my Spiced Pumpkin Cake is something that soars beyond the typical store-bought, pumpkin-flavored treats!

So pump up the pumpkin to experience and enjoy this wildly-popular food in a whole new way—right in your own kitchen!

Pumpkin Penne Pasta Alla Vodka  
Serves 4  |  Pictured above

2 Tbsps Olive oil        
2 Shallots, diced            
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Vodka        
1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes        
3 Tbsps Tomato paste
1 cup Heavy cream    
1 cup Canned pumpkin purée    
1/4 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Salt        
1 lb. Penne pasta            
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Put a large skillet over a medium flame and heat the oil. Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the vodka and cook for 1 minute, or until you can no longer smell alcohol. Add the pumpkin and cook until well incorporated. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Cook pasta: Drop the pasta into generously salted boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta and the reserved water to the pan. Toss over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the Sauce thickens slightly. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, allowing the residual heat of the pan to melt the cheese. Serve with more black pepper and another sprinkle of grated cheese.

Roasted Butternut Pumpkin Salad Cottage1122 Salad
Serves 6

1 Butternut pumpkin       
2 Tbsps Olive oil        
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsps Garlic, crushed        
2 bunches fresh Arugula        
1/3 cup Pecans, lightly toasted
1 cup Feta cheese        
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds    
Balsamic glaze as a drizzle

Preheat oven to 350° F. Using a peeler, peel the butternut, then slice off each end, cut into half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into halves again, then cut into 2–3-inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, add olive oil, garlic and cracked pepper and toss the butternut into the mixture to coat well. Spread the butternut onto a large roasting pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the butternut is tender and soft, but not falling apart. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a large salad bowl, add the arugula, then place the butternut chunks on top. Add the toasted pecans, feta and pomegranate seeds, then drizzle the balsamic glaze on top, feel free to add more olive oil, if desired.

Pumpkin SoupCottage1122 Soup
Serves 8

2 whole Pie pumpkins    
1 qt Vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup Heavy cream        
1/3 cup Maple syrup
Dash of Nutmeg        
Salt, to taste
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for serving

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place pumpkins on a cookie sheet and roast them until soft. Allow to cool slightly, then slice in half and carefully scoop out seeds and pulp. Scoop the flesh into a bowl. Set aside.

In a pot, heat up the pumpkin flesh with the stock and maple syrup until simmering. Mash out the big chunks, then transfer the mixture to a blender, food processor or immersion blender and purée until smooth. Add cream and nutmeg, then blend again. Season with salt to taste.

Lightly toast pumpkin seeds, and sprinkle on the soup for crunch and lovely garnish!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

For the cake:Cottage1122 Cake

4 Eggs
2/3 cup Sugar
1 cup Vegetable oil
1 tsp Vanilla
15 oz Pumpkin purée, canned
2 cups Plain Flour
2 tsps Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
2 tsps Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Cardamon
1 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1 tsp Salt

For the cream cheese frosting:

1 pkg Cream cheese
1/2 cup Butter, softened
3 cups Confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Whipped cream,
for serving

Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin cake. Garnish each slice with whipped cream and enjoy!

ChefLynne Headshot

Leslie Rohland, owner of the Cottage Cafe, Bakery and Tea Room in Old Town Bluffton, is an award-winning recipe creator who is known for her delicious and ever-changing menu at her extraordinary restaurant. She is also the owner of the popular healthy eatery The Juice Hive and the micro-roastery May River Coffee Roasters. For more information about The Cottage Cafe, visit www.thecottagebluffton.com or call 843-757-0508.

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