David Heisler, the owner of Comus Market in upper Montgomery County, Md., and grower of almost 40 varieties of pumpkins and other winter squash, says the fruit is perfect for the one-pot meals he loves: It’s good for soups and stews, and does well baked and stuffed. But the diversity of pumpkins and squash, Heisler says, means that they can shape an entire meal, appetizer to dessert. Here are some of his favorite varieties and his suggestions on how to cook them.
Jarrahdale: This blue pumpkin has a golden-orange flesh that is fine-textured and sweet. Good in pies, it is also versatile in soups and stews.
Peanut: This pink-skinned pumpkin, named for the peanut-shell exterior, is lighter in density than most other pumpkins and is mild and fluffy when baked. It can be eaten straight out of the oven and is also good for soups and stews and baked with a pot roast.
Lakota: It’s a pear-shaped pumpkin with crimson-orange flesh that is delicious when raw — grated in salads or slaw — but also good in chili.
Cow: One of the creamiest pumpkins, with excellent flavor, this large variety works well in pies, pudding and soup.
Sugar: Sweetness, texture and flavor make this small pumpkin great for pies.
Caribbean: Its firm yellowish-orange flesh is mild and sweet. Heisler likes to saute it with scallops in a white wine sauce and serve over buttered noodles.
Delicata: “Fans of Delicata love the sweetness of it,” Heisler says. He recommends serving it filled with a savory stuffing.
Red Kuri: Raw or baked, this rich-flavored, fine-textured squash can be added to soups and stews, or eaten plain.
Buttercup: Heisler says he and most of his customers enjoy this smooth-textured squash baked and eaten plain. “It is mighty tasty,” he says.
Pink Lady: Similar to the Red Kuri and Buttercup varieties, this yellow-orange squash has a smooth texture. Heisler suggests using it as an alternative to butternut squash in pureed soups. Flavorful and light when baked, it’s also good in pies, bread and muffins.