Pump Up the Flavor

Make your taste buds dance with pleasing pumpkin


Wendy Bennett, a longtime professional chef, owns and operates Wine Country Cooking Studio in Dundee, She lives nearby on a 12-acre farm with her family and a barn full of animals.

Recipes by Wendy Bennett

Curried Pumpkin and Coconut Soup with Chili Lime Pepitas

“The subtle spice and aromatic curry pair perfectly with rosé of Pinot Noir or Sangiovese.”

Yield: 4 servings

- 1 pie pumpkin (or 2½ cups canned pumpkin)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ tablespoons curry powder (may use up to 3 tablespoons for more curry flavor)
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2½ cups stock/broth, chicken or vegetable
- * salt and freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup pepitas, toasted (with chili and lime, if available)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

2. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking pan. Pour ¼ cup water on parchment paper (reduces browning) and place pan in oven. Bake approximately 45 minutes or until tender (check by piercing with knife). Cool 10–15 minutes.

3. Using a spoon, scoop cooked flesh out of pumpkin. Measure out 4 cups of squash and freeze any remaining for the next batch of delicious soup.

4. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook while occasionally stirring until clear and slightly brown, about 10 minutes.

5. Add curry powder, stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes, allowing spices to toast and release flavor.

6. Add coconut milk; cook for 5 minutes.

7. Add wine; cook until reduced slightly.

8. Add stock or broth; stir to combine. Add pumpkin purée and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes.

9.  Purée soup until smooth using a stick blender or counter-top blender.

10. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowl with toasted pepitas.

Pumpkin Risotto with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

“A family favorite! Tastes amazing with Oregon Pinot Gris.”

Yield: 4 entrée portions

- 1 pie pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup yellow onion, diced
- ½ cup arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 4 cups vegetable stock, hot
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- * salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter (to finish)
- ½ cup Reggiano Parmesan, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

2. Slice pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and place cut-side down on parchment-lined baking pan. Add ½ cup water to pan and roast until tender and a paring knife inserts easily into the pumpkin flesh (through the skin). Allow to cool to room temperature (45 minutes).

3. Using a spoon, scoop out pumpkin flesh and reserve in a bowl until needed.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in a large, heavy sauté pan or Dutch oven.  Add the onion, and cook until clear and fragrant (do not brown).

5. Add rice and cook until it browns slightly and has absorbed oil, about 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Add wine and stir until absorbed; then begin adding hot stock 1 cup at a time. Stir constantly until stock is absorbed, before adding additional stock to the rice. This process will take 20 minutes or so. Use as much stock as needed to reach the proper oatmeal-like consistency.

7. When rice is al dente to the tooth (tender with a firm center), add roasted pumpkin, breaking up tender pumpkin with spoon (some small chunks will continue to be visible); stir until heated.

8. Remove pan from heat; add butter, cheese, parsley, thyme and rosemary. 

9. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

“This recipe is sure to become a family favorite. Pair with late harvest Riesling or Port-style dessert wine.”

Yield: 12 servings (individual ramekins)

- 1¾ cups gingersnap cookies, ground
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 stick salted butter, melted

- 3 8-ounce cream cheese packages
- 1 can puréed pumpkin (15 ounces)
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. To make the crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press equal amounts (about 2 tablespoons) down flat in buttered 7-ounce ramekins. Set aside.

3. To make the filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth.

4. Add pumpkin purée, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, spices and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

5. Pour into ramekins, filling two-thirds full. Spread out evenly and place in a sheet pan in the oven. Fill sheet pan with warm water up to about one-third of sides of ramekins; bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Filling should be a little jiggly. 

6. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

7. Serve with maple whipped cream. 

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