Pumpkins, Please, For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Pumpkins at the farm.

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson


While pumpkins are not native to Ireland, they are in great demand during the autumn, especially around Halloween (also known as Samhain, one of the four ancient Celtic festivals). In the U.S., we use pumpkins in many sweet and savory dishes, always enticed by the look of a supermarket display or a roadside stand selling the colorful beauties! If you like to add some color and crunch to your pumpkin treats, try sweetened dried, fresh, or frozen cranberries.

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These muffins are perfect for breakfast, but sweet enough even for a tasty dessert.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups sugar

1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin

4 large eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Softened butter, for spreading

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat two standard muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, mixed or pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and juice with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended and smooth; stir in flour mixture and nuts.

3. Transfer batter to prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in centers comes out clean.

4. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pans and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

5. Serve immediately spread with softened butter, or store in covered container for up to three days.



This healthy grain salad is a great make-ahead dish for lunch or dinner because the components can be prepared in advanced and assembled at serving time. I like the nutty flavor of farro, an ancient grain (a variety of wheat) with rich texture and mild flavor, but quinoa or couscous both work well in this salad. Cooking the farro in chicken or vegetable stock adds additional flavor.

For the farro

1 cup farro

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

For the vegetables

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 large shallots, quartered

Sea salt

Ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon honey

Ground black pepper

For the salad

2 cups lightly packed spinach

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup dried cranberries, for topping

1/2 cup roasted squash seeds, for topping

1. Make farro. In a medium saucepan, bring stock and farro to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, loosely covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until farro is nearly tender. Transfer to a colander to drain; let stand, fluffing with a fork once or twice, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cool. Transfer to a large bowl. (Can be prepared up to 1 day in advance; cover and refrigerate).

2. Make vegetables. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss squash, Brussels sprouts and shallots with salt, pepper and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

3. Roast, turning once or twice, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until vegetables are browned and tender; let cool for 10 minutes. (Can be prepared up to 1 to 2 hours in advance; leave at room temperature).

4. Make dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and pepper.

5. Make salad. In a large bowl, toss farro with vegetables, spinach, parsley and half the dressing. Sprinkle with cranberries and squash seeds. Serve remaining dressing on side.



I personally love cranberries and look for any excuse to use them, even before their obligatory appearance on the Thanksgiving table. They’re a delicious addition to this moist pumpkin bread.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

Whipped cream cheese, for spreading (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch loaf pans and dust with flour; tap out excess.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt; stir in sugar.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture, and then stir in pumpkin, cranberries, and pecans.

4. Transfer to prepared pans and bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert breads onto a wire rack, return to upright, and let cool completely.

5. To serve, cut bread into slices and serve spread with whipped cream cheese, if desired. Loaves can be frozen.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her new cookbook Teatime in Ireland, visit