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Food & Drink

Top Pumpkin Treats In Connecticut

October 16, 2013 8:00 AM

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(Photo credit: Marc Müller/AFP/GettyImages)

(Photo credit: Marc Müller/AFP/GettyImages)

Connecticut grows more pumpkins than the farmers know what to do with, so leave it to the state’s premier bakers, chefs and even bartenders to figure out ways to use this signature New England fruit. Here are five places in Connecticut where this queen of the squash family is given the royal treatment.

Freund’s Farm Market and Bakery
324 Norfolk Road (Route 44)
East Canaan, CT 06024
(860) 824-0650
www.freundsfarmmarket.com

Theresa Freund and her family and friends own and run one of the largest dairy farms in the Northwest Corner. They also grow corn and other produce, including pumpkins. The year-round indoor farm market and bakery uses those pumpkins and other locally grown produce to make some amazing treats – and that includes scrumptious pumpkin cookies. Theresa also uses pumpkin to make pies, breads, cupcakes and donuts, but her pumpkin cookies are an especially popular treat because nobody has to wait until they get home to eat them.

Michele’s Pies
666 Main Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06851
(203) 354-7144
www.michelespies.com

With a street address that starts with the numbers 666, perhaps it is no wonder that Michele’s Pies has won so many national awards (27 and counting). Michele Stuart surely must have made a bargain with the devil to make such amazing pies. Two of the 34 varieties of fruit pie available at her original or new, second store (in Westport) are pumpkin pies. There is the original and the award-winning maple pumpkin with pecan streusel pie. Ms. Stuart does not restrict herself to just fruit pies, she also has a long list of nut, cream and savory pies, as well as other products, the number of which varies with the seasons. Michele’s also does catering and holds pie-making classes, and for true fans of her pumpkin and other pies, there is a “Pie of the Month Club.”

Rathskeller Restaurant & Bar
88 Main St. S.
Southbury, CT 06488
(203) 264-0186
www.rathskellerct.com

Pumpkin is not just for dessert, not anymore. Pumpkin is now used in many a main dish, including the pumkin ravioli (spelled without the second ‘p’) at the Rathskeller in Southbury. There is, of course, more than just this orange-colored member of the squash family in this home-made pocket of pasta. The chefs at the Rathskeller add walnuts, ricotta cheese and other types of squash to the pumpkin, and cook it in a savory sage sauce, one that helps balance out the sweetness of the ricotta.

Related: Top Apple Pie In Connecticut

The Dressing Room
25 Powers Court
Westport, CT 06880
(203) 226-1114
www.dressingroomrestaurant.com

Pumpkin can not only be found in a main course and a dessert, it can also be the primary ingredient in a starter – especially if that starter is a soup. At The Dressing Room in Westport, Executive Chef Jon Vasst prepares a lovely roasted pumpkin and squash soup. It is the star of the fall and winter menu at this charming restaurant that he and Paul Newman founded (yes, THAT Paul Newman). The chef begins with pumpkin and butternut squash, then adds Spanish onions, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. It is cooked in a vegetarian stock and served with leeks and honey crisp apples, then topped off with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Besito
46 S. Main St.
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 233-2500
www.besitomex.com

Pureed pumpkin shows up in many soups, main courses and desserts, but at Besito Mexican restaurant in West Hartford, the pumpkin is not inside of but instead on top of the dishes. The spicy, robust “pipian” sauce, also known as green mole, is made from pumpkin seeds, and appears in many of Besito’s chicken entrees, notably the pechuga de pollo. The tangy pumpkin seed sauce is also the key ingredient in the pan-seared grouper, which appears on the menu as pescado con pipian y atole. Besito has won high ratings from Zagat, Connecticut Magazine, The Hartford Advocate and Hartford Magazine for its authentic cuisine and its unique pumpkin seed sauce.

Related: Top Pumpkin Dishes In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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