What ever happened to the pumpkin? You know, that bulbous, bright-orange member of the squash family that used to be emblematic of fall? It's gone missing.
Now, autumn is considered pumpkin spice season, boasting a plethora of pumpkin spice products that often have little to no real pumpkin in them whatsoever.
It's gotten to the point where plain ol' pumpkin recipes feel like a rarity, a novelty. A pumpkin's fate is usually being carved into a jack-o'-lantern rather than baked into bread or puréed into a bisque. And that's a real shame.
Since Tuesday, Oct. 26 is National Pumpkin Day, here are some of TODAY Food's favorite pumpkin recipes that highlight the earthy, rich sweetness of the gourd.
Valerie Bertinelli's Pumpkin Pudding by Valerie Bertinelli
This creamy, 25-minute pudding is one of Bertinelli's favorite desserts to make in the fall. The warm spices complement the sweet pumpkin perfectly in a pudding that tastes incredible with the spiced, crunchy cookies.
Martha Stewart's 5-Spice Pumpkin Pie with Phyllo Crust by Martha Stewart
Adding Chinese five-spice powder to the filling may seem unorthodox, but two of its components (cinnamon and clove) can already be found in standard pumpkin-pie spice. The dramatic crust is delightfully easy to create and won't disappoint any graham cracker crust lover.
Joy Bauer's Pumpkin Kettle Corn by Joy Bauer
Craving a sweet snack that's low in calories? Give your popcorn an addictive, pumpkin-y spin by tossing a batch with a sweet and caramel-like sauce and then crisping it in the oven. It helps take a standard snack from good to, well, incredible.
Natalie's Pumpkin Flan by Natalie Morales
Creamy, light and no-fuss, flan is the perfect way to end a fall feast. Morales keeps it straight to the point vanilla and condensed milk but gives it some added fall flair with pumpkin pie flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. Each bite feels cool going down with a warm touch.
Pumpkin Rolls by Matt Abdoo
Warm cinnamon and sweet pumpkin cakes get rolled up with cream cheese frosting. They're perfect for autumn entertaining.
Christina Tosi's Easy-as-Pie Pumpkin Bars by Christina Tosi
When fall strikes, many people long for cozy, gooey treats. But sometimes, it's too much of a feat to make a full pie to satiate that craving. These little squares deliver big on dessert magic without out all the work.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Samah Dada
These pumpkin cookies are like fluffy clouds of pumpkin-spice heaven. The pumpkin adds a subtle flavor that isn't too overpowering, while lending to the extremely soft and fluffy texture that's almost cake-like. Once you've tried pumpkin with dark, melty chocolate, you'll be saying, "Peanut butter, who?"
Pumpkin Spice French Toast Casserole by Ryan Scott
Hosting an autumn brunch? This simple spin on French toast is easy to prep one or two days in advance and can be popped in the oven the day of. People will melt into your effortless entertaining skills when they walk into a house filled with warm spices, maple syrup and freshly brewed coffee.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Bundt Cake by Shay Shull
This easy boxed cake mix recipe is always moist, always delicious and tastes just like fall. The milky, butter frosting is also made with warm cinnamon for the perfect complement to an already wonderful dessert.
Pumpkin (Calabaza en Tacha) Cheesecake by Marcela Valladolid
The shards of pumpkin-brown sugar brittle take this already-tasty pumpkin cheesecake to a whole other level. It's all in the details, right?
Pumpkin Fritters by Ariane Duarte
This recipe is all pumpkin all the time! The crispy fritters are made from fresh roasted pumpkin then they get a dip in sweet pumpkin caramel infused with homemade pumpkin butter.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie by Curtis Stone
Rich, creamy, classic. There's no beating pumpkin pie. It's a Thanksgiving staple that we think should be enjoyed all season long.
Spiced Pumpkin Muffins by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
Banish dry muffins forever. Using mashed bananas and pumpkin puree makes these healthy-ish treats extra moist. They also add a dose of potassium and vitamin A.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns by Gesine Bullock-Prado
Wait, cinnamon buns weren't already perfect? No, actually, they needed pumpkin. Now they're perfect.
Pumpkin Spice Latte by Casey Barber
While the hope here is to show off the gourd in all its natural glory, it's hard to kickoff fall without at least one nutty, sweet coffee beverage. This one, at least, uses no artificial syrups. Instead, you'll roast that pumpkin for the best pumpkin-flavored latte of your life.
Pumpkin Gnocchi by Ariane Duarte
Incorporating pumpkin and sage into tender gnocchi gives the classic Italian comfort food a fall flavor that's perfect for cold-weather entertaining.
Chili-Roasted Pumpkin Seed Munchies by Kevin Curry
Crunch on these spicy seeds on their own for a healthy snack that you feel confident knowing are homemade. Make sure to make extra! They're also great as a flavorful topper for a creamy soup or fall salad.
Pumpkin and Sausage Soup by Shay Shull
Top the thick, creamy fall classic with a sprinkling of salty ground sausage. For folks who eat meat, it really takes it from a small starter to a more nourishing dish that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner.
Pumpkin and Sausage Lasagna by Katie Lee
OK, lasagna lovers: If you're ready to expand from the classic Italian tomato-based version, get ready to fall for this autumnal spin. It's the perfect balance of sweet and creamy, with smooth ricotta cheese, torn bits of hearty kale and earthy sausage.
Pumpkin, Bacon and Crispy Sage Mashers by Ryan Scott
Once you try this recipe, you're never going to want traditional mashed potatoes again! Don't skip the roasting of the pumpkin puree: This important step removes excess liquid and intensifies the flavor for a beautiful combo of salt and a little sweet.
Roast Pumpkin and Fresh Mozzarella Salad by Daphne Oz
This veggie-centric salad is so good for you but the bit of fresh mozzarella and the hint of sweetness in the vinaigrette make it feel decadent. The maple-roasted squash brings a wonderful caramel flavor to this dish. It's the perfect way to welcome pumpkin season!