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Four Fall Favorites: The Pumpkin Roundup

photo by Desiree Espada

The only thing that’s wrong with Dallas is the brevity of fall. It lasts all of three weeks. Maybe four, if we’re lucky. But whatever God-sent perfect weather we have now is making want to devour everything that’s remotely pumpkin-related. If you’re crazy about pumpkins, too, jump here for the list of pumpkin favorites. Feast your eyes on these food beauties.

Bolsa's pumpkin panna cotta (photo by Elliott Munoz)

1. Bolsa Mercado’s pumpkin panna cotta

Panna cotta is the best way to finish off a meal at Bolsa Mercado, especially if you’ve eaten an entire Bolsa burger by yourself already. The pumpkin panna cotta is light, creamy, and perfectly satisfying with its cranberry-orange-ginger chutney dressing the top. It’s not a heavy dessert and it’s meant to be shared. The best part is scooping the leftover bites of panna cotta on your chips of pumpkin seed brittle and feeling the texture contrast (soft vs. crackly) rolled between your tongue. That’s if your dessert partners don’t mind you scraping the sides of the plate. Mark Bittman has an incredible foolproof recipe for pumpkin panna cotta, which I plan to make for Thanksgiving. Or, if I get lazy, I might buy Bolsa’s version and pass it off as my own. I have no shame.

Pumpkin cream cheese spread from Trader Joe's (photo by Carol Shih)

2. Trader Joe’s pumpkin cream cheese spread

Usually I avoid cream cheese spreads in grocery stores, but Trader Joe’s pumpkin-flavored spread ($2.79) is an exception. First of all, it’s whipped. And did I mention that it’s sooo fluffy I’m gonna die? It still tastes like pumpkin, too, and it’s not overly sweet, both of which I like. It helps me pretend that my bagel breakfast is sort of healthy.

Trader Joe’s has other fall “Fearless Flyer” specials, like the pumpkin butter for $2.20 and spiced cider for $2.99. I considered grabbing both items and calling it a day, but I needed a good excuse to visit the Plano location again. Plus, the cashier told me to come back every day for all the fall pumpkin-flavored goodies, to which I responded with a vigorous nod.

Soy braised Kabocha pumpkin at Tei-An (photo by Carol Shih)

3. Tei-An’s soy braised Kobocha pumpkin

Tei-An holds a special place in my heart. Everything that comes out of Teiichi’s kitchen should be preserved in a special food museum so future generations can get a taste of this Japanese food art that’s happening in One Arts Plaza. Kabocha pumpkins, which I spotted at Tian Tian Supermarket in Richardson this weekend, are Japanese pumpkins that are a pain in the assassin to cut open. It requires a special knife and a very strong arm. But once you figure out a way to open this ugly, green, squat-looking pumpkin, the juicy insides are worth all that work. Teiichi serves a slice of seaweed over his braised kakobcha pumpkin slices ($4.00), which sit in a bed of savory soy broth.

Pumpkin bread with vanilla frosting (photo by Carol Shih)

4. Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery’s pumpkin bread

I’m a sucker for pumpkin bread, especially pumpkin bread that has vanilla frosting and pumpkin seeds on it. The one at Tu-Lu’s is moist despite the fact that it’s gluten free. It almost has a banana bread-like consistency. You can’t taste the pumpkin so much, but there’s still an earthy flavor to each bite. Plus, the vanilla frosting adds just a dollop of extra sweetness.

(Off topic: Tu-Lu’s is opening its third location in West Village on Thursday, October 18 at 3699 McKinney Avenue, Suite 318. Hurrah!)

Pumpkin bonuses

*The Scarecrow taco at Torchy’s Tacos: Torchy’s October flavor of the month comes with pumpkin-seed breaded chicken tenders and roasted poblano peppers, escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilantro, and chipotle ranch.

*The pumpkin soup at Charm Juk is a rich dessert bowl of sweet, pureed pumpkin. It’s a simple and minimalistic dish, but it arrives at your table hot, nutritious, and comforting for cold weather days.