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I am hoping to try out cooking with pumpkin this year and only know a) not to buy jack-o-lantern varieties for cooking, and b) about making it into sweeter things like pies, cakes, cookies et cetera. I have seen recipes for roasting seeds and flavoring them to make them spicy (add red pepper, who'd have thought?), but I don't know what options I have as far as using the flesh/ground pumpkin to head more toward a savory dish. [Please note, I am particularly interested in vegan approaches, though all methods are welcome.]

  • Are there particular varieties better for making savory dishes?
  • What flavor spectrum does the pumpkin (raw, roasted...) lend itself toward naturally or without much force? How do you coax those out?
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6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are terrific Thai pumpkin curries; the flavor profile would be garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander seed, cilantro, chiles, Thai basil. Here is one I did with Delicata squash that would work equally well with pumpkin: http://www.herbivoracious.com/2009/10/red-curry-delicata-squash-and-tofu-recipe.html .

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Amazing, I wasn't even thinking of going there. I was hoping to pair it with some cranberry beans in a stew of sorts and I think this would be a great way of doing it. –  mfg Oct 6 '10 at 16:01
    
+1- Pumpkin curries are one of my favorite parts of fall. –  Sobachatina Oct 7 '10 at 12:49

I like a spiced pumpkin risotto. I take a basic butternut squash risotto recipe substitute pumpkin and add ginger. I bake my pumpkin in 1 inch cubes with rosemary, cardamom, salt and pepper. If I am just cooking for my wife and I as opposed to cooking with my kids in mind, I add chiles to the risotto, it cuts some of the sweet out of the pumpkin.

edit: You could leave the cardamom out, I just really like the flavor so it is more of a personal choice.

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I think cutting out a good portion of the sweet is rather essential; how does cardamom (which I do like) fare in the balance of sweet v. savory? Does it pick up more like nutmeg on the palate or like sage? –  mfg Oct 6 '10 at 17:05
    
I would say it tends to balance more to the sweet as it is more commonly found in sweet dishes and picks up like a citrusy nutmeg on the pallette if such a comparison could be made. I really like the flavor with pumpkin and squashes which is really the only reason I include it in the recipe. –  Varuuknahl Oct 6 '10 at 17:28
    
I'm definitely intrigued, and the food co-op near my house has quality spices in bulk so i could buy a tablespoon or two of it. –  mfg Oct 6 '10 at 20:20

A different option is nuts. Pumpkin works great with walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, ... There are nice tie-ins with e.g. mushrooms and goat cheese (not vegan, OK).

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That's still a great option, especially as a side for the rest of us omnivores. –  mfg Oct 6 '10 at 17:03
    
especially if you use butternut pumpkin! –  Arafangion Oct 6 '10 at 22:07

The original Iron Chef did a pumpkin battle, maybe there will be a replay on TV you could search for since we are in that time of year.

Should be some interesting ideas in there, been a long time since I saw that one.

Otherwise, here are some YouTube links for it

Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6LGzJPqjsA
Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xiMI7bk4RE
Part 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI5jDPVDYfM
Part 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJCETXOnYU0
Part 5 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqgfhakBWQU

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Good to know, I can always use an excuse to watch Iron Chef –  mfg Oct 6 '10 at 20:18

In addition to what's already been mentioned (although, I admit I didn't watch the Iron Chef videos), if you're looking or savory, pumpkin works in a lot of places where you might use potatoes:

  • pumpkin gnocchi : use roasted mashed pumpkin in place of the potato; look for recipes online
  • roasted pumpkin : cube, toss with oil and salt (and maybe herbs & vinegar), roast alone or with other vegetables (eg, carrots, onion, garlic).
  • pumpkin waffles (or pancakes) : again, look online, there might be vegan versions.
  • pumpkin croquettes (fritters) : ditto, but I don't know how they'd bind without eggs

And of course:

  • pumpkin bread (or muffins) : lots of recipes online

... but just about any recipe that calls for acorn squash (unless it's used as a serving dish), or sweet potato might give you ideas.

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Are there particular flavors/herbs/spices that incorporate well aside from nutmeg, or other spices that lend themselves toward sweet and away from savory? I.E. the idea of making a tableau of creamy curry –  mfg Oct 8 '10 at 13:38

massaman curry paste was made for pumpkin. Throw in some cashews for extra richness.

dark mexican mole sauce equally yum. celeriac would be a nice addition.

Guilin chili sauce straight out of the jar and smeared on roast/grilled pumpkin is an easy side-dish

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