I love pumpkin. It’s a squash. In America, we all know and love pumpkin pie. (Well, most people do.) But unfortunately, most people associate pumpkin with sweet and cinnamon, and forget that it is a vegetable.
Personally, I especially love the versatile pumpkin in savory dishes. Below I’ve listed different ways to serve pumpkin in savory ways, using the purée or the pumpkin itself.
Let’s first talk buying pumpkin purée. Everyone knows that pumpkin purée comes in a can. But I also recently discovered it in an aseptic carton, sold at Whole Foods. I just had to test it out!
For the expected pumpkin pie I made back in 2012, I used the carton of organic pumpkin purée, Farmer’s Market brand, but I followed the recipe on the proverbial Libby’s Pumpkin can. (They are the same weight of pumpkin.) The pie turned out better than ever, and I know it was because of this purée. When you pay the high dollars at Whole Foods, you’d better be getting high quality. In this case, it was worth the extra money.
Many years ago, I purchased a generic brand of pumpkin purée and I could tell just after opening the can that it really was an inferior product. It was very watery, and the color was off. I will never do that again.
If you want pumpkin already puréed, store-bought is definitely the easiest way to go. But I would highly recommend buying the highest quality product you can find.
Another option is to cook your own pumpkin and make your own purée. It’s worth doing – you then get the benefit of pumpkin seeds. If you’ve never done it, I suggest baking a pumpkin at least once. I’m sure it’s already on your bucket list anyway. (!) Here’s what you do:
Fresh Pumpkin Purée
1 sugar pumpkin, about 5 pounds
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut up the pumpkin into manageable pieces. Remove the seeds and save for toasting. Then wrap the pieces up in foil and place in the oven. After about 1 1/2 hours, turn off the oven and let them sit there for a couple of hours.
When the pumpkin has cooled, scoop out all of the cooked flesh and pass it through a food mill. It will be a little watery. If you want it thicker, cook it over low heat in a non-stick skillet, stirring often.
This methods results in about 6 cups of purée.
Ideas for using pumpkin in savory ways:
Pumpkin makes a lovely sauce for pasta
Pumpkin can be added to just about any stew, cubed or puréed
Pumpkin is good in polenta/grits
Pumpkin can be added to meat loaf for added nutrition
Pumpkin is good roasted, with onions
Pumpkin can be added to spaghetti sauce
Pumpkin makes a fabulous ravioli filling
Pumpkin soup, especially curried, is to die for
Pumpkin is great in risotto, cubed or as a purée
Pumpkin can be added to yeasted breads and rolls – it gives them a gorgeous color
Seasoned pumpkin purée or mash makes a great side dish
Pumpkin is good in any vegetable combo dish, especially when roasting is involved
Pumpkin can be added to savory corn muffins
Pumpkin can be added to scones
Pumpkin can be schmeared on pizza
Pumpkin can be mashed with potatoes
Pumpkin makes a great container for meat-rice fillings, vegetarian fillings, or soups like borsch
Pumpkin is good in spazele, see pumpkin spazele
Pumpkin can be used in just about every way that you would use butternut squash
Have fun using pumpkin in your cooking!!!