Photo by June Naylor.

Sure, pumpkin pie is tasty, but let’s not limit the bright-orange gourd to a brief appearance at the Thanksgiving table. As these Texas chefs and creators from top restaurants and tourist destinations prove with their innovative recipes, pumpkin can be spicy, savory, crunchy, and deep-fried, too. Before your decorative doorstep pumpkins go completely kaput, consider upcycling them into a dish you won’t soon forget.

Pumpkin Pozole

In the Hall Arts Hotel, opened in downtown Dallas nearly a year ago, chef Eric Dreyer puts his spin on a favorite Southwestern stew at the restaurant called Ellie’s. Serve with cornbread or corn or flour tortillas. Serves 4.


1 gallon chicken stock

1 onion, chopped

¼ cup chopped, peeled garlic cloves

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1 kabocha squash, peeled and chopped

4 gaujillo chiles

1 jalapeno, chopped

1 cup pumpkin puree

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup diced country ham

½ cup corn kernels

¼ cup diced red onion

¼ cup roasted, peeled, and diced poblano pepper

1 tablespoon diced jalapeno

¾ cup cooked hominy

¼ cup diced yellow tomato

¼ cup diced red tomato

¼ cup cilantro leaves

1 cup fried tortilla strips

Directions: Heat a little stock or broth over medium high heat, adding onion and garlic, cooking 10 minutes or until translucent. Add squashes, chiles, jalapeno, pumpkin, lime, oregano, and remaining stock, stir well and lower heat. Simmer 1 hour; liquid will reduce significantly. Blend ingredients and pass through strainer; discard solids not strained away. Season with extra lime, salt and pepper, as desired and set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high flame and sauté ham until browned, about 2 minutes. Add corn, onion, poblano, and jalapeno and sauté 3 more minutes. Add hominy and tomatoes, heating through for 1 minute. Add broth and stir well. Pour the pozole into four bowls and garnish with cilantro and tortilla strips.

dish, spoon, quinoa, pumpkin, napkin

Harvest Quinoa Pilaf with Pumpkin from Meyer & Sage. Photo courtesy Meyer & Sage.

Harvest Quinoa Pilaf with Pumpkin

Chef Callie Salls launched her catering business and gourmet-to-go shop Meyer & Sage in Fort Worth to accommodate patrons with special diet needs and everyone who wants fresh dishes made with natural, healthy ingredients. She updates her menus with seasonal dishes, like this grain-and-vegetable pilaf that pairs well with turkey or ham or stuffed into baked acorn squash. Serves 6 to 8.


1 ½ pound sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, diced in 1-inch cubes

4 medium gala apples, unpeeled and diced in 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

2 tablespoons avocado oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 cups prepared quinoa

½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped

½ cup pepitas, toasted and salted

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

2 cups arugula, optional

Sherry Maple Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 orange

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 cup grapeseed or avocado oil

Crushed red chile flakes, salt, and pepper to taste

Directions: Combine pumpkin or squash with apples, fresh sage, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Toss midway through, and put back in oven until until golden and tender. In a large bowl, combine warm roasted mixture with prepared quinoa, pecans, pepitas, raisins, and cranberries (and arugula, if using). Stir in 1 cup sherry maple vinaigrette (below) and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.

Sherry Maple Vinaigrette: Whisk together whole grain mustard and pure maple syrup with juice and zest of 1 orange, sherry vinegar, grapeseed or avocado oil, a sprinkle of crushed red chile flakes and salt and pepper, to taste. Makes 1 ½ cups.

pumpkin, tempura, dish, vegetables

The Nicolett’s West Texas Crudites with Hokkaido Pumpkin. Photo courtesy The Nicollet.

West Texas Crudites with Hokkaido Pumpkin

At Lubbock’s new dining destination is The Nicolett (opening this month), native son Finn Walter serves as chef. To utilize pumpkin, he offers a sharable vegetable course for fall, starring the Hokkaido pumpkin, which he loves for its versatility, flavor, and color. If that’s not available, he likes substituting delicata squash, which has a similar texture. Serves 4 to 6.


2 Hokkaido pumpkin (also called red kuri squash) or delicata squash

4 tomatillos

1 yellow squash

1 green zucchini

Salt, to taste

½ gallon canola or other frying oil

½ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup corn starch

¾ cup rice flour

1 egg yolk

1 cup Topo Chico (ice cold)

Peanut oil

Local pickled vegetables (optional)

¼ cup pepitas

1 teaspoon pumpkin seed oil

Directions: Cut pumpkins in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon, leaving thin skin of pumpkin intact. Cut each half into 1-inch strips, and cut strips in half. Remove tomatillo husks; cut tomatillos in quarters. With a peeler, cut squash and zucchini into ribbons. Lightly sprinkle salt on vegetables, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make tempura batter by combining dry ingredients in stainless steel bowl. Whisk in egg yolk, followed by Topo Chico. The mixture should bubble, creating a light batter. Refrigerate immediately; keep cold until ready to use.

In a heavy-bottom pot, pour oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 360 to 370 degrees. Dredge pumpkin slices in batter and fry. After 1 minute, toss tomatillos in batter and add to the oil. To test doneness, pierce pumpkin and tomatillos with fork; when these pierce easily, vegetables are ready to remove with slotted spoon. Liberally season with salt.

To serve, arrange squash and zucchini ribbons in bottom of a medium-size bowl, like a nest. If using pickled vegetables, top the nest with these, followed by layers of fried tomatillo and pumpkin slices. Scatter pepitas on top and finish with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil.

popcorn, caramel, pumpkin spice, bowl, jar

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn from Underbelly. Photo by Matt Staph.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn

If you visit the Urban Harvest Farmers Market on Saturdays in Houston, you’ll find this treat for sale at the Underbelly Hospitality booth. It’s an addictive snack, and it’s a great gift, too. The creation comes from Underbelly’s pastry director, Victoria Dearmond. Makes 12 cups.


12 cups popped popcorn

½ cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon honey

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice (see below)

Directions: Heat oven to 250 degrees. Combine popcorn and pumpkin seeds in a well-greased pan with high sides so you can stir easily without making a mess. In medium saucepot, combine butter, sugars, salt, honey and syrup. Whisk over medium-high heat until melted; cook another 3 to 5 minutes to gently boil. You want this to smell like caramel but not get too dark. Whisk in baking soda; this makes mixture at least double in volume. Pour over your popcorn and pumpkin seeds, stirring with a rubber spatula to cover. (If it doesn’t cover everything, no need to panic, you can help it along in the first stir during baking.) Place in oven and bake, stirring after 10 minutes to spread caramel over all the popcorn. Stir after another 15 minutes, and then again after 15 minutes more, for a total of 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a surface where it can cool quickly. If it’s crispy, you’re set. If it’s a little chewy, bake a little more, stirring and checking every 5 minutes until it’s done. Sprinkle pumpkin spice blend evenly over mixture. Stir again so it doesn’t clump, using your hands if necessary. Once completely cooled, store in airtight containers so it won’t be sticky.

Pumpkin Spice Blend: Combine 3 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1 teaspoon allspice, and ¾ teaspoon ground cloves. Mix well and store in airtight container.

pumpkin, scones, glazed, plate

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze from Salty Roan Bakehouse.

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze

Most folks know the miniscule town of Buffalo Gap, a quick drive south of Abilene, for the Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Now, the hamlet is a good stop for breakfast and lunch at The Gap Café, where a big bakery case features temptations from the on-site Salty Roan Bakehouse. Here’s a fall offering, perfect for enjoying with a big cup of coffee.


5 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

4 ¾ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

¾ cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 cup chopped pecans

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree

3 eggs

¼ cup whipping cream, plus extra for brushing

½ cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon heavy cream.

Directions: Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice into a large bowl. Add butter pieces to the flour mixture and using a food processor or pastry cutter, mix until texture resembles small pebbles. Stir in chopped pecans. In a separate bowl mix pumpkin, eggs, and whipping cream. Add the pumpkin mixture to flour mixture. Using your hands (or a wooden spoon) stir until all is incorporated—but be sure not to overmix. It won’t come together like a batter and will look dry, but it sticks together when pressed. Divide dough into two equal parts and, on a floured surface, press into two circles about 1-inch thick. Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from freezer and cut each circle into 6 large triangles. Brush with cream and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and drizzle with maple glaze, below.

Maple Glaze: In a bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with maple syrup and heavy cream. Chill until ready to drizzle on baked and cooled scones.

pumpkin, butter, spoon, ceramic

Pumpkin Butter from Doves Nest. Photo by June Naylor.

Pumpkin Butter

For more than 25 years, the Doves Nest in Waxahachie has been a magnet for locals and roadtrippers in search of lunch with a side of shopping. Among take-home treats are jars of relishes and apple butter, along with this seasonal pumpkin butter. Serve it on hot biscuits or English muffins. Makes 4 cups.


1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin puree

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspooon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ cup water

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, allowing to gently simmer for 20 minutes and caramelize to a darker rusty-brown color. Stir every 2 minutes to keep from sticking. The finished pumpkin butter should be thick and shiny. Cool and transfer to 8-ounce jars. This keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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