Do you look forward to pumpkin spice season every autumn? Or are you more of a pumpkin soup lover? However you like this amazing gourd, you’re in luck: we’ve put together a list of 10 fruits like pumpkin for you to fall in love with too.
1. Kabocha Squash
Kabocha is a delicious, firm-fleshed squash that tastes like sweet pumpkin. Since it holds its shape when cooked, it’s ideal for tempura or stir-fried dishes, and is as good with savory seasonings as it is in baked goods.
If you’d rather put its sweetness to good use in desserts, try it as a substitute in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Alternatively, you can try using it in vegan pumpkin ice cream.
2. Blue Hokkaido Squash
This is one of the most delicious winter squashes around. Its skin is a fascinating gray-blue color, which juxtaposes amazingly against the bright orange interior. The flesh tastes a lot like pumpkin, only with a deeper, nuttier flavor.
You don’t need to add many seasonings when you cook this squash. Just roast the slices with a bit of Earth Balance and salt, then mash them, or puree them into soup with your favorite vegetable stock.
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3. Butternut Squash
Butternut is one of the most common winter squashes you’re likely to find. It’s available in supermarkets worldwide, and is as versatile as it is delicious.
Most people can’t tell the difference between this squash and pumpkin when it’s cooked. Try it in a curry with spinach, or sauteed with garlic and salt as a filling in ravioli.
This enormous, blue-green, warty squash hails from Bolivia and Peru. It’s an ancient variety that grows well just about everywhere, and can reach up to 20lbs in size.
Crespo tastes the same way large pumpkins do: less sweet, and more savory and watery. You can carve this variety into Jack o’Lanterns for Halloween, and then transform the insides into soup or stew.
5. Lakota Squash
Originally grown by the Lakota Sioux people, this pear-shaped, bright orange squash was traded with European settlers and naturalized all over the country. Most notably, it was established at Fort Atkinson in Nebraska during the early 1800s, where it became a beloved staple food.
It has sweet, pumpkin-like flesh with a rich, nutty flavor. Although it can be used in sweet dishes, it really shines in soups, stews, and other savory meals.
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6. Jiang Bing Gu Squash
Okay, so this Chinese gourd is fascinating because you can eat it two different ways. When it’s immature, it’s bright lime green and looks like a spray-painted pumpkin. At this stage of development, it’s quite soft and tastes like zucchini when you cook it.
In contrast, it darkens to a beige-orange hue when mature, at which point it tastes just like pumpkin. Isn’t that amazing? One squash, two different ways. Best of all? It thrives in growing zones 4-11, so you can grow it just about anywhere.
7. Musquee de Maroc
This North African fruit is part pumpkin, part squash, yet neither. It tastes like a cross between pumpkin and acorn squash, with rich, tender, sweet flesh that lends well to just about any recipe.
Just know that if you grow it yourself, you’ll need to grant it a LOT of space. These plants get absolutely huge, and produce rather prolifically. This is good news for pumpkin lovers, but don’t expect to be able to walk around your yard until they’re all harvested.
8. Iran Squash
As its name indicates, the Iran squash hails from Persia. If you like sweet pumpkin dishes, then definitely add this rare heirloom to your growing list. It’s one of the sweetest edible gourds out there, so you’ll either need to use it in desserts, or counteract its sweetness in savory dishes.
Try it in vegan pumpkin “cheesecake”, or pudding, or fudge. Or anything else that will satisfy your sweet tooth!
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9. Moranga Fruit
This pink squash comes from Brazil, where it’s treasured for its use in all manner of savory dishes. In fact, many stews are cooked inside the hollowed-out shell! The flesh is seasoned and mixed with various ingredients, which are then baked (and served) right in it
Although most traditional moranga stews incorporate seafood, you can make vegan versions with hearts of palm, potatoes, and fried plantains instead.
10. Marina Di Chioggia “Sea Squash”
Last but not least, we have Marina Di Chioggia. This winter gourd is one of the weirdest fruits you’ll ever come across. It has bumpy, toad-like green skin and deep reddish-orange flesh that’s deliciously sweet and “meaty”.
It’s known as “sea squash” because it was grown in lagoon-rich areas around Venice. It thrived in the regions where salt marshes were drained, and the fruits were sold right out of people’s gondolas and other boats to those waiting for it on the boardwalk. It’s an extraordinary heirloom variety that tastes much better than it looks!
How excited are you to try out these varieties? Additionally, there are some honorable mentions that you may want to taste while you’re at it.
Although they’re not fruits (so they didn’t make their way onto this list), check out sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, and cassava roots. They all have a similar mealy texture to pumpkins, and can be used alongside them, or as an alternative to them. Try them roasted, mashed, baked into pies and muffins, or any other way you can imagine.