It's pumpkin season, that time of year when food fans take to the internet to debate the old existential questions. What exactly is a pumpkin? Is that stuff that comes in a can really pumpkin, or is it some other kind of squash?
Frankly, if you stick it in a pie and add whipped cream, who cares what it's called? We. Will. Eat. It. But there are, in fact, other varieties of squash in season this time of year, and Dallas chefs are busy whipping up new recipes that aren't necessarily pie-shaped.
You’ll find butternut at many places, and there are other types, too, offering a more savory way of getting into the fall months through flavor. Don’t lose me here. As Dino Santonicola of Partenope Ristorante says, this is the “tomato of winter;” in fact, he's making a caprese with it.
“It has a lot of flavor, and it has a multi use … it’s not very expensive, and you find it pretty much everywhere,” he says. “It’s complementary with the burrata and has everybody loving it … with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper, it’s a great element.”
At Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck, they’re roasting it before making it a puree or dicing and stir-frying it.
“When squashes start to appear at markets, you know fall has arrived or is right around the corner. I particularly love fall squashes because of how versatile they are,” says Jacob Williamson, executive chef of Five Sixty. “They encompass everything from pumpkins and zucchini, to courgettes and marrows. Additionally, the seeds can be toasted and candied and used as a garnish, or a snack — or can even be pressed for their oil.”
John Tesar has a nice squash risotto at both Knife locations now, too.
“I love the lush, rich, creamy texture and the earthy sweetness of squash,” he says.
If you want to cook with squash, go for it. If you’d rather have the experts’ takes, here are some places in town highlighting the ingredient:
Fiori di zucca with squash blossom and wild cod mantecato ($11)
Tortellini filled with pumpkin squash ($23)
2000 Ross Ave., Suite 140 (downtown). 400gradi.com
Stephan Pyles Flora Street Cafe
Soup duo with butternut squash and roasted corn soups with apple-bacon chutney ($14).
2330 Flora St., Suite 150 (Dallas Arts District). florastreet.com
Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck
Pan-seared diver scallops with kabocha squash puree, forbidden black rice, spiced pepitas, cardamom crème fraiche, Profound Microfarms greens ($37)
300 Reunion Blvd. E in Reunion Tower (downtown). wolfgangpuck.com
Burrata salad topped with carmelized delicata squash, Marcona almonds, white balsamic and breadcrumbs ($16)
8416 Preston Center Plaza (North Dallas). ilbraccorestaurant.com
Tamal de Elote: corn tamale, skili p’ak sauce, goat cheese foam, butternut squash puree ($7)
3858 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 470 (Oak Lawn). jalisconorte.com
Butternut squash risotto with black trumpet mushrooms, sage and roasted squash; all ingredients are finished in a brown butter, and the risotto is finished with a puree ($22)
5300 E. Mockingbird Lane (East Dallas); 6121 W. Park Blvd., Plano. knifedallas.com
Mexican Bar Company
Pollo tacos with butternut squash mojo and crispy butternut squash ($9-13)
6121 W. Park Blvd., Suite Rs-10, Plano. mexbars.com
Mot Hai Ba
Butternut squash “Bolognese” with house-made vermicelli noodles, butternut squash, celery, onions and carrots, topped with shaved white truffle ($28)
6047 Lewis St. (East Dallas). facebook.com/mothaibadallas
Kabocha squash (a Japanese winter squash) tempura ($4)
400 Crescent Court (Uptown). noburestaurants.com
Early winter pizza with mozzarella or burrata and Parmesan cheeses, butternut squash, basil and candied bacon ($16)
Caprese di zucca with mozzarella or burrata, seasonal squash, basil, balsamic reduction and pesto ($12)
1903 Main St. (downtown). partenopedallas.com
Perle on Maple
Fall lettuces with roasted butternut squash and puffed wild rice, drizzled with maple-black pepper dressing ($11); add chicken ($4), steak ($6), salmon ($6)
2927 Maple Ave. (Uptown). perleonmapledallas.com
True Food Kitchen
Squash pie: a graham pie crust filled with spiced butternut squash filling topped with coconut cream ($9)
8383 Preston Center Plaza, Suite 100 (North Dallas); 7601 Windrose Ave., Suite F100, Plano. truefoodkitchen.com
Up On Knox
Seasonal minestrone soup with Comeback Creek Farm butternut squash ($11)
3230 Knox St., Suite 140 (Knox-Henderson). uponknox.com
Roasted butternut-turmeric hummus ($8)
3601 Dallas Parkway, Plano. whiskeycake.com