Pumpkin isn't just for pie, but if you're eating dessert featuring pumpkin you'll want the right beverage to go with it.
If pumpkin is part of your main course, you're already thinking outside of the box. “There are so many savory elements to pumpkin, it would be a miss to only look to pumpkin pie and other sweets to enjoy the seasonal flavor," says Chef Dolan Lane from Red Star Tavern in Portland, OR.
There are plenty of tasty dishes that lend themselves to pairing with pumpkin, if you know how to cook the combos just right.
Mix and Match Your Pumpkins
Pumpkin-loving consumers go crazy for pumpkin spice come fall, especially on Saturdays, according to bar and restaurant data from Upserve, the restaurant management platform. So, if you're seeking the next best weekend family meal using pumpkin, or if you're hosting an adults-only dinner party featuring everyone's favorite orange fruit, consider the following ideas for food and drink pairings with pumpkin:
Elevate comfort food. Chef Lane pairs pumpkin with peppers. “This time of year, bell peppers, in particular, are a great summer-meets-fall combination," says Lane. He also serves roasted pumpkin with a classic romesco sauce. “Nutty and sweet squash like pumpkin marries beautifully with the salty and sweet flavor of the sauce.
The Gewürztraminer has it. When it comes to a liquor that loves to cuddle up to pumpkin, plenty of sommeliers recommend Gewürztraminer. “Pumpkin can be a bit tricky, but my go-to wines come from the Alsace region of France, with a focus on Pinot Gris or Gewürztraminer, which has its own spicy character to add to the pumpkin element in most dishes," says Wendy Keefer, certified wine specialist with Cellar Experience.
Preferred pasta. Pasta rises to a new level when you're serving up a treat like pumpkin ravioli. Executive head chef Mario Gentile at Adoro Lei in New York City created a festive twist on an Italian classic with pumpkin raviolo al uovo dish – aka oversized ravioli. The handcrafted raviolis are filled with a pumpkin puree and soft-poached egg yolk to warm bellies. Topping off the meal is a brown butter nutmeg sauce served over oven-roasted kale. This upscale dish still oozes warmth and comfort that defines fall.
Dress it up. When you are pressed for time and need a simple meal choice, Silvia Baldini, chef and author of Tray Chic, recommends pairing pumpkin with unexpected partners. “Miso is salty, delicious, and it has a very distinctive punchy and comforting taste when we need our food to be sustaining and full of flavors," says Baldini, who abundantly spoons miso-ginger dressing over simply steamed pumpkin and other fall vegetables. “Ginger brings heat and a little kick that complements the sweetness of sugary pumpkins. Also, ginger is very healthy and an effective natural antibiotic, something we all need a lot of during the fall season."
Keep it simple. Pumpkins offer variety, a perk that not every fruit can provide. “I like to keep my recommendations pretty straightforward," says Iron Chef Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti Earth in the Duane Street Hotel in Tribeca, who offers pumpkin dish suggestions along with drink pairings. “When serving a buttery, savory pumpkin dish, pair with Viognier. This would go great with a creamy pumpkin purée or pumpkin soup. If you're doing a spicier pumpkin dish, like spicy pumpkin fritters, always wash it down with a glass of champagne. Lastly, with your sweet pumpkin pie dessert, pair with a sweet port or Oloroso."
Chili infusion. For the adventurous eaters, there is the combo of pumpkin and heat. “In the fall, we all know there's an abundance of pumpkin, but what's less common knowledge is the abundance of chilis," says executive chef Justin Nuebeck of Empire Diner in Manhattan, and we're not talking chili con carne. “I like to pair wood-roasted pumpkin with a variety of pickled and fermented chilis," says Nuebeck. “The spice from the chilis helps counter the sweetness of the charred pumpkin. Take it one step further and the acid from pickling helps cut through the creamy rich texture."
Pumpkin pairings. Matthew Collins, certified sommelier at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse in Boston, recommends dry white wine to accompany pumpkin ravioli in a white sauce, a burgundy chardonnay or creamy California chardonnay with pumpkin risotto, and a Sangiovese to pair with pumpkin in a red sauce. And, of course, pumpkin pie shines when coupled up with silky, rich dessert wines.