Nothing says fall like pumpkin pie. With its dark orange color, sweet, earthy flavor and memories of Thanksgivings gone by, it fits the season perfectly. But maybe, after years of relying on the same dessert every time the leaves change color, you've tired of this autumnal treat. Or maybe you love it so much that limiting your pumpkin intake to pie just won't cut it. Both camps are in luck as many Chicago eateries — and even spas — are using pumpkin in innovative ways.
Pumpkin Pie Pizza at Ian's Pizza
It has a crust and is filled with pumpkin pie filling, but this dish is far from your standard pumpkin pie. Although it may sound crazy to eat dessert in the form of a pizza, this concoction fits right in with Ian's other one-of-a-kind pies such as chicken burrito, mac 'n' cheese and s'mores. Using pumpkins from the Green City Market
(where the Wrigleyville pizzeria gets produce for its veggie pies as well), the pizza is also topped with pecans and marshmallows. Grab a slice ($3.75) when it's available the week of Halloween.
Pumpkin Pie Pancakes at John's Place
For a pumpkin treat in the morning, head to John's Place — in Lincoln Park or Roscoe Village — for some pumpkin "pie" pancakes. The plate-sized cakes are spiced, sweetened with brown sugar and served with a delectable maple pecan butter and maple syrup. Surprisingly, the result is not overly sweet, tasting more like pumpkin bread than a sugary dessert. Order the full stack ($6.25 for three cakes) if you have a large appetite, otherwise opt for the short stack ($4.50 for two cakes) and pair it with a side of organic chicken apple sausage ($3.50).
Squash Risotto at Perennial
When cooking with pumpkin, the slimy orange guts are not the only useable part. Perennial's executive chef Ryan Poli knows this, and has incorporated pumpkin seeds into his new risotto dish. On the menu at least through the fall, the risotto is combined with Laughing Bird shrimp (a white, sustainably raised variety); red kuri squash (which resembles a miniature pumpkin) from Green Acres Farm in North Judson, Indiana; and the pumpkin seeds, which are toasted and curried for an extra kick. At $12, the hearty dish is listed as a starter but can serve as an entree.
Pumpkin Croquetas at Nacional 27
photo: courtesy of Nacional 27
For a Latin-inspired pumpkin dish, head to Nacional 27 for the Caribbean pumpkin and goat cheese croquetas ($5.95). Calabaza, a squash found in Central and South America (and also the Spanish word for pumpkin), is tossed in a spice mix, stuffed with goat cheese, covered in pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs and fried. The resulting tasty treat is topped with orange aioli. Chef Tim Hockett says he uses eight to 10 varieties of calabaza in this dish, with flavors that range from floral to earthy. The squash's other advantage is that it's available year-round, although Hockett tries to incorporate local pumpkins when in season.
Pumpkin Facial Peel at Salon Echo
At this eco-friendly day spa in Edgewater, treatments that use fruits and vegetables aren't out of the ordinary. For the month of October, the salon is embracing the season with a triad of pumpkin treatments. The first, a 100-percent organic, anti-aging pumpkin facial peel ($100, offered Wednesdays-Sundays), rejuvenates the skin with the pumpkin's natural antioxidants and is accompanied by a pumpkin hand scrub. The scent also has a calming effect, and although the organic compound can be eaten, manager Tamara Talsma doesn't recommend it. Pumpkin manicures ($20) and pedicures ($40) are also available Fridays-Sundays throughout the month.
Even more pumpkin treats::
- Roof gets into the spirit of the season with the Great Pumpkin Cocktail, featuring Maker's Mark bourbon, citrus and pumpkin simple syrup.
- La Madia keeps it cool in River North with pumpkin gelato.
- Scooter's sets high expectations for its annual pumpkin frozen custard.
Looking for more ways to celebrate the season? We've got you covered with scarily accurate info on:
House Party Essentials
Creepy Chicago Tours