Pumpkin, apple and cranberry are some of the flavors we associate with Fall. If you only think of pumpkin as an ingredient in pie, think again. There are many options both sweet and savory to explore.
You can cook a whole pumpkin to serve as a vegetable or puree it before adding it to a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes. Or you can start with a can of pumpkin, which is a lot less work.
Here are some quick and tasty ways to add cooked or canned pumpkin to your everyday foods:
- Include ½ cup of this nutrient packed food into your favorite soup or stew recipe.
- Try mixing a little of this mild flavored vegetable in with your favorite pasta sauce, red or white.
- Enhance the creamy texture in your favorite casserole with ¼ – ½ cup puree added to the sauce or liquid ingredients.
- Incorporate 1/2 cup puree in with 1 pound of cooked ground meat or poultry when making Sloppy Joes. This trick helps keep the moisture (the sloppy part) while reducing the amount of sweet BBQ sauce needed. My family of 5 all taste tested and approved this tip.
- Stir a tablespoon or two into your bowl of oatmeal, pumpkin spice is optional.
- Add ¼ cup of puree to your favorite smoothie.
- Pancake or waffle batter can benefit from 2-4 Tablespoons of this high fiber goodness.
Wanting to combine two classic fall flavors into one savory dish? Try this recipe for Turkey Pumpkin Chili or create you own soup or stew recipe using pumpkin as a supporting ingredient.
CSU Extension’s Food Smart Colorado website has an unusual savory recipe for a pumpkin bean dip that could be the prefect addition to your fall entertaining or tailgating menu.
The creamy texture of cooked or canned pumpkin can be used to replace some of the fat in a cake, quick bread, or muffin recipe. Start experimenting with replacing up to 50% of the fat (oil) in the recipe for puree and then adjust from there. In addition to the health benefits of replacing fat, pumpkin adds moisture, fiber, and the antioxidant (beta-carotene) to dishes. These soft pumpkin cookies from Oregon Extension Food Hero site make a fun snack or breakfast item.
Store Well, Waste Less
If you are only using a small amount of puree at a time, what can you do with the rest of the can? Once you open a can, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. So, either have a plan to use the rest in other foods within 4 days, or freeze it.
For easy use from frozen, freeze it in the small amounts you use most often. If you use a tablespoon or two at a time, portion it in an ice cube tray and freeze. If you usually use ½ cup or more at a time, measure it into a resealable freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal and smash it flat. Label the bag with the contents, date and the amount and freeze flat. This thin layer will freeze and thaw quickly.
Pumpkin is found in many ethnic dishes, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, African, Latino, Mediterranean, Cajun and Creole, just to name a few. Try searching for some new pumpkin recipes to try this fall.
Share how you like to use pumpkin in the comment section.