With one pumpkin-studded holiday behind us, and one coming up later this month, it’s an excellent time to figure out a way to incorporate some of that carotene-rich vegetable into some recipes. Whether you’re ready to eat those small sugar pumpkins that have served as decorations or go out and buy one from your favorite market, it’s not hard to prepare pumpkin puree. Just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and while it’s heating, split your pumpkin vertically and scrape out the seeds. Brush the halves with olive oil, and place flesh side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes, set aside to let cool slightly, then mash. Use the puree in the following recipes, freezing any leftovers for a future batch of muffins or bread.

Just as mashed cauliflower is the low-carb version of mashed potato, pumpkin is the low-calorie choice for stuffing shells in the following recipe.

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20 jumbo pasta shells
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Marinara sauce:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 cup chicken broth
34 cup each crushed tomatoes and pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, minced
14 tsp. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
12 cup additional Parmesan for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells until al dente, and drain. Arrange on a baking sheet to cool until ready to stuff. For filling, mix together pumpkin, cheese, egg, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl and set aside.To make marinara, drizzle olive oil in a large skillet and saute garlic until fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin, sage, nutmeg and salt, mixing well until combined. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes. While sauce cooks, stuff shells. Using a spoon, fill each shell with about two tablespoons of filling. In a 9x13-inch baking dish, spread about 34 of marinara in the bottom of the dish and arrange shells on top. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with additional cheese and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until hot/bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with remaining sauce and serve.br />
Pumpkin goes Tex-Mex in the following recipe.

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2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tsp. cumin
12tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
4 six-inch pita breads
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
juice of two limes
olive oil
14 cup Greek yogurt
2 avocados, sliced
chopped cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, mash pumpkin with cumin, chili powder, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Toss black beans with half of lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt in another bowl. In a third bowl, whisk yogurt with remaining lime juice and a pinch of salt. Place pita breads on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on the edges but still chewy in the center. Remove and set aside.br />
On each toasted pita, spread a scoop of pumpkin puree, a scoop of black beans, and a few slices of avocado. Drizzle with lime yogurt, then garnish with cilantro and a dusting of chili powder if desired. br />
Pumpkin puree is also the star of bars, cookies, muffins, pies, and other desserts at this time of year. Most of them call for pumpkin pie spice, so if you want to have some on hand, for a fourth of a cup of pumpkin pie spice combine three tablespoons ground cinnamon, two teaspoons ground ginger, one teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ground allspice and a half-teaspoon of ground cloves. Save in a labeled jar or shaker for use during the holiday season, using some in this gingerbread-textured pumpkin espresso cake.

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1 stick butter, melted
134 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. instant espresso powder, plus more for dusting
112 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
34 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
34 cup pumpkin puree
34 cup granulated sugar
12 cup packed light-brown sugar
23 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with parchment; butter parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, instant espresso powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs into pumpkin puree, then whisk in butter, sugars, and milk. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Scrape batter into pan. Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes, turn out onto rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours. To serve, top with whipped cream or ice cream.