A Word on Pumpkin


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

pumpkin after baking

pumpkin after baking

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!!!

32 thoughts on “A Word on Pumpkin

  1. Thank you for the list, and what a beautiful pie that is! I love pumpkin. Unfortunately, my love for it is not shared, and pumpkin is only tolerated in my house…which is why this list might become pretty useful when I next try to sneak in some pumpkin into a meal; I love the idea of adding it to meatloaf, that sounds delicious!


  2. I like pumpkin in savory dishes, too. Different kinds of pumpkin soup (I think I tried one once with ginger that was really good), curried pumpkin, and once pumpkin sloppy joes. Good list, gives me some new ideas. I still have pumpkin from last fall’s garden in my freezer that I need to put to use.


  3. Packaged prepared pumpkin is not sold in Australia (except at USA Foods) We use it mainly as a veg, it’s delicious roasted in salads, tagines, risotto, soup, and with savoury stuffings. There are so many varieties available, each has a nuance that makes it appropriate for a specific use. What you call butternut squash, we call butternut pumpkin!
    It’s all delicious served any which way…..


  4. Thank you for this informative post. A week ago, I bought a butternut squash to make a pasta dish and it is still sitting in the refrigerator. Actually, I had forgotten about it. Now I am encouraged to create something. . :D ))) Fae.


  5. I’ve tried a lot of pumpkin and butternut squash recipes in the fall, and found that the flavor has to come from other stuff like amaretti cookies, mostarda, garlic, sage, etc as pumpkin itself is quite bland. Is it the type or quality of pumpkin? I’ve always used whole pumpkins and baked them myself.


    • Neither, I think. That’s why they’re so versatile, though. Because they are on the subtle side, taste-wise, and do well with all kinds of preparations and just about all flavors.


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