Even though we’re only a week into October, you may already be overwhelmed by the number of pumpkin recipes floating around online. Well let me share a little secret: We food writers wait ALL YEAR to break out the pumpkin. You’re lucky if we can hold out past Labor Day! Pumpkin is the ultimate symbol of fall and the seasonal cooking that comes with it. Think kids running around the pumpkin patch, the Great Pumpkin, Thanksgiving pies, and the ever-popular pumpkin muffins. (I also think of braised beef with pumpkin and pumpkin ravioli, but that’s another story.) After all, it takes a pretty jaded palate to be able to resist a warm basket of pumpkin muffins.
My kids adore breakfast muffins, but when I’m whipping up gluten-free pumpkin muffins at 6:30 a.m. before shuttling them to school, I want to avoid measuring out 16 kinds of flour. I found that you can make a pretty basic version using just rice flour and a bit of cornstarch–no gums or complicated blends. The muffin’s texture is light with a flavor redolent of pumpkin and warm spices. Granted, the muffin won’t win any “healthy whole-grain awards”, but that was the tradeoff in this case: easy to throw together vs. a blend of multiple flours. (In this morning’s version, I actually found myself a bit shy of the full amount of white rice flour and substituted millet flour for the last 1/4 cup. The results were good; you can always tinker with the flour if you’d like to increase the healthfulness.)
I love serving the muffins warm with apple butter or pumpkin butter. If you’ve never tried these, you can find them jarred near the jams and jellies at the supermarket. (They may be seasonal; this is a good time of year to stock up.) The fruit butters are dairy free–as are the pumpkin muffins–but if you’re a dairy eater feel free to slather on the butter.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin or other winter squashes? Share your thoughts in the comments section. ~LbR