If a pumpkin were a movie, it would be a romantic comedy, from its whimsical child-like appearance in the patch, to its lusty taste and texture in the kitchen.
The pumpkin may be one of the most versatile ingredients ever, transforming itself into savory dishes as well as sweets (not to mention a carriage for Cinderella). It’s equally at home mashed and stirred into polenta or muffins as it is baked up in a pie. But roasted with butter and maple syrup may be its best role yet.
In the recipes that follow, pumpkins light up the dinner table even more than their toothy kin illuminate the front porch. As a rule: Save the large pumpkins for carving, but use the smaller varieties (sugar pumpkins, New England pie pumpkins, New Jersey Cheese and Luminas) for cooking. A 2-pound pie pumpkin will yield about 2 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. Simply cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, place cut sides down in a pan of water and bake until tender. Scoop out pulp with a spoon and discard skin.
—By Crescent Dragonwagon, a food writer in Saxtons River, Vt.