Autumn has arrived in all its glorious color. OK, not so much the foliage part yet, at least not here near the coast. But our farms and markets are bursting in the most deliciously colorful ways, with Titian-hued Cinderella pumpkins, golden squash and variegated varietals that look as good as they taste.

"Pumpkin is like that intro to fall," says food writer Diane Cu. "You see it and ooh!"

And there's so much more you can do with pumpkins than relegate them to a jack-o'-lantern fate. Those versatile, vitamin-packed globes -- and their winter squash cousins -- are equally at home on the dinner table in pumpkin risottos, butternut crumble and other sweet and savory takes.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffeecake, photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group)
Pumpkin Spiced Coffeecake, photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group) (Mark DuFrene)

Roasted pumpkin is perfect in spicy coffee cake, swirled into rich vanilla ice cream or pureed into soup, say Cu and her husband, Todd Porter, co-authors of the new "Bountiful" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35, 304 pages). It marries beautifully with pasta and other savory elements and shines on its own, simply roasted.

It's a view shared by John Jackson, executive chef at Oakland's Bocanova. He's doing a four-course Halloween dinner that features pumpkin in every course, including a decadent, golden-hued pumpkin risotto and scallops a la plancha with pumpkin sauce. The risotto uses both pureed roasted pumpkin and tiny cubes of sauteed squash, with sliced chestnuts, Brussels sprouts and plenty of fresh sage.

Look down the coast to Half Moon Bay, where the big pumpkin festival runs this weekend, and you'll see pumpkin in every possible guise, from chicken-pumpkin sausages to pumpkin churros. There's pumpkin beer, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin pretty much everything else.

But if you're looking for something delicious to do with the versatile squash at home, Porter and Cu like to think outside the bin in their cookbook and their blog, the irreverently named White on Rice Couple. Cu, a photographer, is Vietnamese, with a penchant for all things American. Porter, who hails from the restaurant industry, is American, with a passion for all things Japanese. What they share most, besides an obsession with food, is an enthusiasm for riffing on themes. So pumpkin bread becomes a spicy coffee cake filled with fresh ginger, rum-soaked raisins and toasted pecans. Ice cream gets swirls of compote or, in this case, roasted pumpkin. And that Butternut Squash Crumble, a savory take on a classic dessert, can be twisted every which way. The recipe calls for cubed squash, bacon, truffled olive oil and mushrooms, with a crumbly topping of nuts, fresh herbs and just a little sugar.

It's a "shoot from the hip recipe and a nice one for fall," Porter says. "I change it every time I make it."

Make it for Thanksgiving, he suggests, and you'll upstage even the pumpkin pie.