Whether it’s flickering jack-o-lanterns or your morning autumn spiced latte, nothing is more synonymous with fall than pumpkins. But why choose between using the seasonal gourds for décor or taste when you can do both at the same time? Miniature pumpkins make a gorgeous visual when used as individual serving vessels and lend a wonderful subtle flavor to dishes served in them.
To do this, start by cutting out the lid of your pumpkins and scoop out seeds (miniature pumpkins require very little cleaning). Lightly coat the lids and the insides of the pumpkins with canola oil and sprinkle with complementary seasonings based on what you’ll be serving in your pumpkins (i.e. something savory would go with ground ginger, salt & pepper, or something sweet would work well with cinnamon and sugar). Place them opening side down on a greased or lined cookie sheet along with the lids. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 or until slightly tender (prebake part of the time if your dish requires further cooking time while in the pumpkin vessel, i.e. puddings). When presenting, tilt the lids next to the pumpkins or use offset as a lid. Try placing an autumn leaf on the plate as a garnish or a dusting of cinnamon around the rim for extra eye-appeal.
Check out some of our seasonal recipes for a hearty soup, savory side and sweet finale that make for the perfect pumpkin presentation!
CIDER SQUASH BISQUE
Makes 8 servings
¼ stick unsalted butter
1 medium white onion, peeled and rough chopped into 1” dice
1 tsp each ginger and garlic, minced
¼ cup apple cider (apple juice can be substituted)
1.5 cups butternut or acorn squash, peeled and rough chopped into 1” dice
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and rough chopped into 1” dice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves and cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped fine
2 tbsps honey
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a heavy bottomed 4 qt. saucepan or stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.Add the onions, garlic and ginger and sweat until they are translucent, 3-4 minutes. Deglaze with applejack brandy, calvados or apple juice.
2. Add the winter squash and apples. Sauté 5 minutes until they are lightly caramelized.
3. Add the stock, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and tender. Add the sage and honey and remove from the heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks.
4. Puree the soup in a blender.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Check for consistency of the soup. If too thick, whisk additional stock to thin.
6. Ladle into 5-minute prebaked pumpkin, bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
(Note* Beef stew, pot pie or veggie chili also work great in pumpkin vessels.)
SAVORY MUSHROOM PUDDING
Makes 12 servings
2 tbsps olive oil or butter
2 tbsps shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 cups heavy cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
3 tbsps pesto
4 cups precut croutons
Salt & white pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over medium heat, melt olive oil or butter in sauté pan. Add shallots and garlic until lightly wilted. Add mushrooms and sauté until cooked, approximately 5-7 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Place in colander to drain liquid and cool. Add croutons and stir until blended.
2. Make custard from the eggs and cream and whisk in pesto, tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
3. Place unbaked pumpkins in baking dish with 1” of water at the bottom to create a water bath. Fill pumpkins halfway with crouton mushroom mix. Ladle custard over the mix, filling ½” from the top of the pumpkin.
4. Cover the pan with parchment paper and foil and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until the custard has set.
(Note* Risotto is also a great option for a savory side served in pumpkins.)
ICE CREAM TRIFLE
Using baked mini pumpkin vessels (that have been cooled to room temp) layer various ingredients to create a harvest trifle. Start with an amaretti or ginger snap cookie crumble for your first layer (if you prefer cake, try pumpkin or carrot). Top with layers of scoops of fall-flavored ice creams like cinnamon, ginger, butter pecan (cranberry or apple sorbets works as well). Top with your favorite sauces like caramel, fruit chutney, spiced chocolate sauce or apple liqueur. Sprinkle with almonds, shredded coconut, heath bar, butterscotch chips — or any of your favorite go-to toppings!