The Great Pumpkin

The versatile squash goes both ways on the holiday table

When news hit that there might be a canned-pumpkin shortage this year, Thanksgiving Day fanatics panicked that there would be a dearth of pumpkin pie. Luckily you can make a pie–and so much more–with fresh heirloom pumpkins.

Forget about turning that giant jack-o'-lantern into a pastry. The smaller and less starchy sugar pumpkins, and the Queensland Blue and Hubbard varieties, which have deeply hued orange flesh, are great for both sweet and savory dishes. You'll find all of them at the Windrose Farm stand at the Santa Monica farmers' market on Wednesdays.

Caterer Meg Taylor, of Large Marge Sustainables, stuffs a seeded sugar pumpkin with cheese and bread pudding and bakes it whole–stem and all. You get pudding and pumpkin in each spoonful–plus, it makes a great centerpiece.

On the sweet side, Cake Monkey Bakery offers a rich pumpkin tart topped with toasted marshmallows (pictured) every holiday season. Pastry chef Elizabeth Belkind braises a variety of pumpkins and squashes in cream, honey and vanilla for extra depth of flavor and texture.

If you miss the cutoff (November 24) to order one ahead for Thanksgiving, there's still plenty of time to make it at home–click here to download the recipe.