With the first of the holiday triumvirate — Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas — behind us, it’s time to take stock of your pumpkin supply. If you are thrifty (or miserly, some might say), you’ll have grown or bought the smaller, darker-skinned pie pumpkins rather than humungous jack-o’-lanterns for your Halloween carving. Since their hour of glowering glory has now passed, you can bring your pumpkins inside, pare away any bits that are dried out or smoke-stained, and cook them up for a few pies’ worth of pumpkin puree. Or, if you have no pumpkins, cook up some winter squash: familiar favorites like butternut, buttercup, acorn and Hubbard, or the slightly more exotic red kuri, kabocha, sweet dumpling or carnival. Whichever you choose, you’ll be serving up a nutrient-dense and low-calorie vegetable that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

If I’m cooking a parted-out Halloween pumpkin, I just clean it up and toss the chunks into a pot with enough water to steam them until soft. Once cool, the pulp can be scraped from the skin and used immediately or frozen for future use. If I have a whole pumpkin or squash I want to puree, I scrub the skin, cleave it in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds. I place the halved pumpkin or squash skin side up in a baking pan, put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan and bake it at 350 degrees until soft. Again, once cooled, you can easily scrape the pulp away from the skin.

If you’re extra thrifty, you can separate the seeds of any squash or pumpkin variety (except, perhaps, those of a giant pumpkin, which can be tough) from their stringy pulp and roast them, whereupon they will become fancy pepitas. Just dump the seeds and pulp into a large bowl, fill the bowl with water and swirl around the seeds, using your fingers to remove the pieces of pulp. Then use a slotted spoon to skim the seeds off the top, and place on a clean dish towel to dry out for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, then place the dry pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet, and toss them with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, mixing them up with your hands to make sure each seed is evenly coated. Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking a couple of times to get them evenly browned. Sample them to be sure they’re crunchy before removing from oven, or you’ll be chewing them for at least a quarter of an NFL game. If you want your pepitas spicy, about 10 minutes before they’re done shake on some smoked paprika, garlic salt or cayenne. My favorite seasoning is soy sauce, which caramelizes nicely on the seeds. For slightly cheesy flavor, immediately upon removing your seeds from the oven drizzle on a bit more olive oil and give them a few shakes of nutritional yeast.

Everyone has a favorite pumpkin dessert, be it pie, muffin or tart. I’m very partial to pumpkin bread pudding, which tastes like the love child of French toast and pumpkin pie and is insanely easy to make. If you want a flashy presentation for the holiday table, this pudding is not going to get guests oohing and aahing, as it’s basic brown and humble in appearance. But for an everyday-meal dessert, it can’t be beat. I always have a bag of bread ends in the freezer, waiting to be turned into fresh bread crumbs or stuffing, so they can be hauled out for this use as well, as long as I’ve remembered not to add garlic bagels to the bag.

P U M P K I N   B R E A D   P U D D I N G

34 stick butter
112 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
12 cup sugar
3 large eggs d>
12 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each cinnamon and ginger
14 tsp. each nutmeg and allspice
5 cups cubed day-old, crusty bread
Preheat oven to 350°. Place butter in an 8-inch baking dish and put it in the oven to melt. Once the butter is melted, take the pan out of the oven and toss the bread cubes in with the butter, coating them thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour them over buttered bread cubes, stirring to make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool a bit, then serve with cream, whipped or plain, or vanilla ice cream.