In Season: Pumpkin

Pumpkin needn't be limited to the ubiquitous Thanksgiving pie -- try it in a range of sweet and savoury dishes.

In our online feature, In Season, we highlight seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the year. What they are, the different varieties, their health properties, and how to incorporate them into your cooking.


What: Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, flavouring your latte, adding moistness to quick breads and muffins, and filling that ubiquitous Thanksgiving pie. And let’s not forget about the larger ones we cut faces in and place on our porches come Halloween. In recent years though, pumpkin’s place in the kitchen has not been limited to the purely sweet. It can stand in for butternut or acorn squash – pumpkin is a member of the squash family, so it makes sense — in a myriad of savoury dishes, from soups, to salads, to sides.

Varieties: It’s important to note the distinction between the Halloween pumpkin and the smaller sugar pumpkin – the latter will be the one you use most in cooking.

Health properties: Like other orange-coloured vegetables, pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also contains vitamin C, folate, potassium (which helps to lower blood pressure), and dietary fibre.

Plays well with: Cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, bacon, white chocolate, dark chocolate, bitter greens such as rapini and kale, maple, apples, carrots, chicken, pork.

Simple ways to use:

Salads: Roast pumpkin in a 375F oven until soft, then let cool slightly before adding to a green salad

Seeds: Toast off pumpkin seeds in your oven with a bit of olive oil and sea salt until a bit browned around the edges, and then add to salads, soups, or just eat as a healthy snack!

Use pureed fresh pumpkin instead of canned in your baked goods – you can also freeze fresh pumpkin for future baking (see instructions below).

Storage: Pumpkin keeps for a few weeks indoors. Keep it in a cool, dry place. You can also bake and freeze pumpkin for future use in baked items – cut the pumpkin into large chunks, remove seeds, and bake at 300F for an hour in a covered baking dish. Add water to the base of the baking dish before you put the pumpkin in the oven – this will help to prevent sticking. Once you can pierce the flesh easily with a knife, cut the skin away, and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 cup portions into plastic freezer bags and freeze until you’re ready to use it.

Get cooking with pumpkin!

Sandra Pittana’s pumpkin pie with honey

Shai DeLuca-Tamasi’s Pumpkin-tini

Pumpkin, smoked bacon and corn soup

Baked pumpkin and white chocolate cheesecake

Roasted pumpkin, chestnut and sage ratatouille

Bouchon Bakery’s pumpkin muffins

Roasted pumpkin, rapini and pecan salad

Sky-high pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie pancakes

Jamaican spiced pumpkin soup

Pumpkin spice doughnuts

Double chocolate muffins

What’s your favourite pumpkin recipe? Let us know in the comments below!