When Starbucks announced the arrival date of its pumpkin spice latte, I let out a little gasp of exasperation. It was August, and still very much a typical Philadelphia summer, with temperatures hovering around 1,000 degrees and humidity to match.
While pumpkin spice everything might not be my go-to, fall is my season of happiness. The air becomes crisp and pleasant. Fall gives us sweater weather, cider doughnuts, the crunching of leaves beneath your feet, and good hair. And while there is a cornucopia of easily found recipes that employ pumpkin spice, the following are new cookbooks that have soups and stews, vinaigrettes and salsas, and desserts, all using the actual pumpkin. It’s time to think outside the latte.
Eat. Cook. L.A. Aleksandra Crapanzano
Eat. Cook. L.A. is an homage to Los Angeles, with 100 recipes handpicked from a variety of chefs from high-end restaurants, holes-in-the-wall, and everywhere in between. Josiah Citrin of Charcoal in Venice Beach delivers pumpkin two ways in the fall variation of his Three Seasons of Arugula. The salad, a lovely balance of tangy and sweet, is composed of arugula, radicchio, and pumpkin seeds, and dressed with a sliced apple and pumpkin vinaigrette.
Tu Casa Mi Casa, Enrique Olvera, Luis Arellano, Gonzalo Goût, Daniela Soto-Innes
You might know Olvera from Netflix’s Chef’s Table. The award-winning restaurateur is known for his blending of authentic traditional, and contemporary Mexican cuisine. His new book has 100 recipes from various regions, all geared for the home cook. The photography is striking and the step-by-step instruction is a tremendous help.
Pumpkin seeds are a common ingredient in Mexican cooking and Tu Casa Mi Casa offers a vibrant salsa from the Yucatan using roasted tomatoes, tomatillo, onion, and garlic, and two types of chiles. The toasted seeds brings great depth of flavor. Pureed until silky smooth, this salsa can also be used as a dip or slathered on warm tortillas as a condiment.
We Are La Cochina: Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream, Caleb Zigas and Leticia Landa
La Cochina, a Bay Area nonprofit organization, is dedicated to supporting and developing successful businesses for food entrepreneurs, mostly immigrant women and women of color. We Are La Cochina tells the stories of 40 La Cochina alumni, along with 75 recipes.
While there are recipes for a pumpkin seed-based green pork mole and roasting pumpkin seeds, both great for using post jack-o-lantern seeds, I was struck by the story behind the Doña Luz Salad. Veronica Salazar’s mother, Doña Luz, used to make this salad when her family didn’t have enough money to buy meat. Now her salad is proudly offered at Salazar’s restaurant. It’s a superb mingling of pumpkin seeds, baby potatoes, greens, herbs, tomatoes, avocado, and queso fresco, drizzled with a zippy jalapeno-lime dressing.
Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen, Adeena Sussman
There’s so much to love about Sussman’s new book. Sababa delivers 120 recipes ranging from simple to aspirational, all filled with the vibrant flavors of the shuk, or market. There’s also a great primer to help demystify some spice blends in Israeli cooking that may be unfamiliar, like za’atar, baharat, and dukkah.
The pumpkin-vegetable stew with easy homemade couscous might be the perfect fall meal. Hearty and healthy, the stew is chock-full of carrots, celery root, chickpeas, cabbage, zucchini, and pumpkin. It honestly never occurred to me to make my own couscous, but Sussman makes me believe I can. She also, thankfully, gives the OK to use store-bought.
The Greek Vegetarian Cookbook, Heather Thomas
The Greek Vegetarian Cookbook has 130 appealing recipes full of “flavors, aromas, and textures” celebrating traditional and contemporary Greek cooking. Pumpkin and pumpkin seed recipes can be found for first and second courses.
For mains, you can choose the roasted pumpkin and bulgur pilaf, laced with warm spices and full of fresh herbs and pomegranate arils. The lima bean, pumpkin, and tomato crispbake is a one-dish meal baked with feta cheese and fresh thyme, perfect for using the late tomatoes in your garden.
Honey & Co. At Home: Middle Eastern Recipes from Our Kitchen, Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich
The husband and wife team behind the Honey & Co. empire bring you accessible and delicious Middle Eastern cooking. These are mostly quick and easy recipes and are prefaced with stories, weaving a rich and personal layer. The feather blade braised with pumpkin, spices, and prunes is a cold-weather wonder. After searing the beef and browning the pumpkin, the ingredients all slow-cook together for about two hours, letting the flavors meld into a cinnamon-kissed one-pot meal. I love that the recipe calls for one glass of wine for the beef and one for the cook; after all, the bottle is already open …
Lateral Cooking: One Dish Leads to Another, Niki Segnit
The book moves laterally from related recipe to recipe, opening a meandering road of cooking before you. Start for instance with the potato gnocchi: You’ll find the base recipe with “leeway” notes, suggestions, fun facts, and substitutions. Turn the page and you arrive at flavors and variations, finding a pumpkin version, gnocchi di zucca, a favorite of M.F.K. Fisher, eaten in Lugano. Fisher’s recipe uses canned pumpkin and is dusted with amaretti cookies.
My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions, Gabriela Cámara and Malena Watrous
Chef Cámera is known for her sophisticated modern Mexican cooking. In My Mexico City Kitchen, she focuses on the home cook, delivering the same level of refinement and authenticity to your kitchen. Well-written recipes and gorgeous photography both inspire and provide tools for success.
While there are excellent savory offerings to use our favorite squash, my sweet tooth called. There are two desserts that elevate and shine a beautiful light on the humble pumpkin seed: a crisp meringue with strawberries and pumpkin seeds, pavlova de fresas con pepitas, and a dark chocolate ice cream with pumpkin seed brittle, helado de chocolate con palanqueta.
Reprinted from We Are La Cocina by Leticia Landa and Caleb Zigas with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019
Dressing: Combine the piloncillo and lime juice in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the jalapeño. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking until the vinaigrette emulsifies. You can also make the dressing in a glass jar with a cover, shaking the oil in to emulsify it. (The dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead.)
Salad: Heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Put the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are softened and easily pierced with a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Leave the potatoes whole or slice in half if larger than 2 inches.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, romaine, watercress, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and tomatoes. Add the dressing and toss to evenly coat the salad. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide evenly among four plates. Top each salad with an avocado quarter and crumbled queso. Drizzle on more dressing as needed.
Adapted from The Greek Vegetarian Cookbook by Heather Thomas. Reprinted with permission of Phaidon.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes