Cooking with Canned Pumpkin: Fresh Ideas for a Frugal Super Food
Readily available, healthy, a doctor recommended super food, on sale frequently during the winter holidays and reasonably affordable even at the regular price, canned pumpkin gets the job done. Think it's just for pies and sweetbreads? Read on.
Pumpkin is incredibly versatile. While many people relegate this colorful puree to pies and sweetbreads alone, it's actually useful for much more than that, including cocktails, casseroles, pasta fillings and breakfast smoothies. Don't know what to do when it comes to that recipe that leaves you with leftovers at the bottom of the can? Try using one of my favorite standby savings strategies, ice cube trays. In the meantime, I invite you to explore the following categories and idea links, several of which will soon be ending up in my personal pumpkin archives. (See also: Get More From Pumpkin Carving by Baking the Seed)
Soups are actually one of the first things people tend to think of when trying to brainstorm outside of the canned pumpkin box. However, this category of recipes alone produced some extremely interesting research results, including seafood pumpkin, shrimp pumpkin bisque, pumpkin peanut butter and a recipe or two for sausage pumpkin soup. Another recipe of interest was this black bean pumpkin soup recipe. Feel like something curried? Here's a link to help you out.
When it comes to sauces, numerous savory options are available. For example, when you scroll down a bit on this link, you will find a recipe seared scallops in pumpkin sauce. I also found this one with garlic and shallots to serve with angel hair and parmesan, a garlic walnut pumpkin sauce to serve with various pasta shapes, this one with sour cream recommended for cheese ravioli, and a creamy yet savory sausage and pumpkin sauce suitable for swapping out with a standard red meat sauce over spaghetti. Looking for a sauce to use on your salad? Here's one for pumpkin vinaigrette that I use at our house:
One clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp of sweetener (stevia, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or brown sugar), salt and pepper to taste, 2-3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, 2-3 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil. You can play around with this recipe a bit, adding a touch more vinegar for extra zip, and double or tripling the recipe to allow for a bigger up front batch. Whip this one up in your blender using an inverted quart canning jar to minimize clean up. (Directions on how to perform this kitchen hack are available towards the bottom of this article on recycling containers.) I've stored this one for nearly a week before in my fridge.
If chilies float your boat, I found this idea for pumpkin turkey chili, as well as one or two others. Something in particular I noticed when researching the chili recipes (there are loads more out there, but I thought three was enough for this post.) was the frequent combination of pumpkin puree into the tomato bases of the chili. Since tomatoes are a super food as well, and the flavors apparently complement each other, this is a great way to get a double nutritional bang for your buck.
Pumpkin dip? That's what I thought. But I actually found several diverse ones, including one or two pumpkin hummus recipes, pumpkin fluff dip, this recipe for peanut butter pumpkin dip that I think could also be seasoned differently for a savory accompaniment to meats, a fruit dip, and this savory pumpkin dip option.
And beverages? Who knew there were so many drinkable options when it came to pumpkin puree? Scroll down using this link to the recipe for a cocktail known as a pumpkin French 75, using puree and gin. You can also make pumpkin margaritas, martinis, infused vodka , and a cool pumpkin rum punch. I also found recipes for pumpkin yogurt punch, pumpkin smoothies and pumpkin lattes for the stove top and crockpot.
This is the category that blew me away. I was hoping to find a few unusual savory ideas for all of you, but there was way more diversity than I expected. We're talking pumpkin gnocchi ,whole wheat pumpkin and spinach pizza, pumpkin couscous, and even baby food. Love the taste of old Mexico? Try these Oaxacan pumpkin tamales.I also have this low calorie pumpkin casserole that we've enjoyed at our house a time or two, a pumpkin gratin, pumpkin cornbread and a savory pumpkin quiche. And that's not all. Here are a few others that made the cut:
- Pumpkin ravioli with sage butter and a recipe for chicken leg and pumpkin tagine. Here's the link for both.
- Savory pumpkin chestnut stuffing.
- Pumpkin spice dinner rolls.
- Pumpkin lasagna.
- Creamy pumpkin penne.
- Sausage and savory pumpkin ravioli.
- Pumpkin risotto.
- Pumpkin cheddar muffins topped with pumpkin seeds for additional artisan flair.
- Pumpkin fritters.
- Syrian pumpkin patties. (Made with bulgur and great for a side dish.)
As you can see, it isn't hard to incorporate more pumpkin in your diet in ways that don't involve dessert.
When it comes to traditional baked goods, pumpkin is an extremely popular ingredient for the fall and winter seasons. Since these are the types of recipes most people tend to have already, I've kept this section of the article a bit brief. A few classics to get you started if this is your first journey beyond pie? Pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling, this vegan pumpkin snack cake that mixes up right in a standard 8 x 8 pan, and versions of pumpkin bread from both the Black Forest and the good old state of Maine. Need a couple more? How about turnovers or low fat pumpkin oatmeal cookies?
I know, I know. There are some baked items here too. But since many of them end up clearly on the fluffier “ooh la la” side of the dessert scale (read: pain in the neck to make), I put them in their own category. In addition to the expected pie, cheesecake and mousse, a few others caught my eye.
With as much luck as I had in researching the savory options for this puree, I have to say I'm encouraged. It'll take some practice and effort to make it one of the choices I go for on a regular basis, but I think with this selection of idea options, canned pumpkin has a serious shot at being used as often as tomato products in my kitchen. Particularly in the casserole, sauce and stuffing arenas. Looking for for other affordable super food options? Check out our articles on spinach, recipes for canned corn, salmon and soy, which is covered in three separate articles on soy beans, tofu and TVP. Since lentils are a super food too, you may want to check out this article for menu ideas as well. Eat healthy, everybody!