Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Off The Shelf: Pumpkin Cookbooks

I have come across several lovely cookbooks devoted entirely to pumpkins and squash. Their covers, table of contents, and photos make me feel all warm and cozy and in the mood for this fall comfort food. (Not to mention I like their size -- they are all just about 7 or 8 inches square.)

IMG_7404It's hard to choose a favorite, but perhaps it would be A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas. The book begins with helpful information on buying, storing, and cooking squash, as well as different types of squash. Then, it delves into Breads and Breakfast, Soups, Salads and Sides, Entrees, and Desserts.

Have a look at some of the recipe titles: Pumpkin-Orange Waffles, Butternut Squash-Pear Bisque, Roasted Butternut Squash Polenta, Lemon-Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Winter Squash, Apples and Onions, Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Drop Cookies, Five-Spice Pumpkin-Ginger Cake, and Pumpkin Flan.

I found the recipes in this book so tempting that I made two for today's post: Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Coffeecake, and Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Meat Sauce (see below).

IMG_7405Next up is Pumpkin Butternut & Squash: 30 Sweet and Savory Recipes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern. This book is also filled with mouth-watering photos and tempting titles: Roasted Pumpkin Salad, Italian Pumpkin Bean Soup, Pumpkin and Pepper Kabobs, Pumpkin Risotto, Pumpkin Gnocchi (this is EVERYWHERE this Fall and I am just dying to make some. It just hasn't happened yet), Pumpkin Biscuits, and Pumpkin Raisin Bread.

I made the Spicy Butternut Curry for Sunday lunch recently and it was incredible. I wanted the leftovers to go on and on. The recipe is included below.

IMG_7407Finally, we have Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash by Brian Glover. This is the newest book of the three, just out this past February. The photography is outstanding and the recipes look like they are too!

The book begins with a description of many types of squash and then launches into 75 pages of scrumptious recipes such as: Squash & Sage Frittata, Roasted Squash Wedges with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Spicy Pumpkin & Coconut Soup with Ginger & Lime, Roasted Squash with Leek & Barley Pilaf, Pumpkin Fondue, Sweet Squash, Pecan & Maple Syrup Tart, and Pumpkin & Ginger Jam.



(A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash)

1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. butter
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
12 cherry tomatoes, red or yellow, halved
1/2 c. fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese shavings
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Greek Meat Sauce:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 cup water
1 1/2 cans (9 ounces total) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. whole mixed pickling spice
1/2 stick cinnamon

To make the Greek Meat Sauce, in a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan. Brown the meat in the reserved oil over medium-high heat, stirring to break it up into even crumbles. Return the onion to the pan. Add the water, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Tie the pickling spice and cinnamon in a small piece of cheesecloth and add to the stew. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding additional water if it threatens to scorch. Discard the cheesecloth.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (a grapefruit spoon works so well for this). Place the squash, cut side down, on the prepared pan. Bake until the flesh can be easily scraped into strands with a fork (about 50-70 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using a fork, scoop out all the flesh into a bowl and fluff the spaghetti-like strands. Toss in the salt and pepper. Place on a large, warmed platter or the cleaned squash shell.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until it turns light brown. Pour over the squash strands. Toss with the fork to blend. Top the squash with the hot meat sauce. Scatter the avocado and tomatoes over and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley. Serve immediately (spaghetti squash looses its heat very fast).

Notes: If you don't have pickling spice and cinnamon sticks, you could switch to Italian seasoning by adding some dried basil and oregano. To save money, omit the avocado and chopped tomato, as well as the Parmesan cheese. I omitted the browned butter and just put a large pat of butter into the bowl of spaghetti squash.

Serves 4-6.


(A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash)

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
1/3 c. sour cream
1 cup pumpkin or winter squash puree, canned or homemade
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. Demerara or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

Spread the walnuts in a small baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, about 8-10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, sour cream, and pumpkin and beat with a large whisk or an electric beater until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the cranberries and 2/3 cup of the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup nuts on top and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan to room temperature, then cut into 9 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Serves 9.

Notes: I omitted the nuts and went with only half the amount of sugar called for (this was for my children and I just didn't want them having all that sugar!). I used fresh cranberries, which tasted wonderful. However, since my cranberries were frozen, the baking time took about 20 minutes longer than listed. Also, I didn't want to sprinkle nuts and sugar on top so went with a simple dusting of rolled oats, just to keep it from looking too plain. It would also be worth trying this with whole-wheat flour.


(Pumpkin Butternut & Squash)

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1 lb. butternut or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
a pinch of ground tumeric
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 large package of spinach, about 1 lb.
a pinch of ground cumin or garam masala
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds, stir-frying until they pop. Add the butternut squash and the onions and stir-fry gently until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the tumeric and stir-fry for 1 minute more.

Add the chicken, stir-fry until sealed on all sides, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Add the cream, bring to a boil, and simmer, stirring until thickened -- the cream will first boil with large bubbles, then small. Stop at this point or the cream will curdle. Add the spinach and cumin or garam masala, cover with a lid, and steam for 2 minutes until the leaves collapse, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Serve with steamed rice or naan bread.

Serves 4-6+.

Notes: I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer and grate from frozen when needed. You could use frozen spinach, just thaw and drain before using.


  1. I love your post about pumpkin cookbooks. I have the first two from the public library and can't decide what to make first!

  2. We made the spicy butternut curry tonight (I think I've made it once before), and while I love the concept and flavors involved, I would maybe tweak a few things. I would not recommend using frozen spinach in place of fresh - just not the same. Also, it doesn't seem right to describe it as "spicy" - it's definitely not spicy hot or anywhere close - maybe I will add some cayenne next time. And we added both cumin and garam masala, and much more than just a dash, to keep it from being bland.